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'Fauci Effect' fueling a rise in medical school applications

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be inspiring a new crop of students interested in medicine.

SEATTLE — The prominence of our nation's doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be fueling interest in medical school.

A surge in medical school applicants is being affectionately referred to as the “Fauci Effect,” named after White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"The 'Fauci Effect' is definitely happening," said Dr. Suzanne Ames, vice president of instruction at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

The institute recently reported a 30-40% increase in the number of applicants for a variety of programs.

RELATED: Meet the Seattle doctor who Dr. Fauci trusted to help develop COVID-19 vaccines

"I think it's brought new light to what it means to work in the health care industry,” said Ames. "People are experiencing a new calling."

The University of Washington Medical School reported a 26% increase in applications for the fall semester across its six campuses. The number of spaces available to students has not changed.

The UW suggests another possible reason for the surge in applicants could be that 100 hours of health care experience was removed as a requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We know we're going to have a lot of tired health care workers when this pandemic ends, and we'll have a fresh new crop of students ready to graduate and ready to go fill that gap," said Ames.