Medical Assistant Jobs as Your Next Career Path - Student Assembly of the State University of New York

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Could ‘Fauci effect’ lead to more doctors in Southern Nevada? - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Could ‘Fauci effect’ lead to more doctors in Southern Nevada? - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Could ‘Fauci effect’ lead to more doctors in Southern Nevada? - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Posted: 21 Dec 2020 05:58 PM PST

It may or may not be the "Fauci effect," but Southern Nevada's medical schools are seeing a surge in the number of applications for admission in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent UNLV graduate Santiago Gudiño-Rosales, 24, who plans to start medical school in summer 2021, was surprised to hear applicant numbers nationwide have spiked during the pandemic.

While the disease that has circled the globe has strengthened his resolve to become a physician, the medical school application and interview process — already a grueling experience in a normal year — presented bigger obstacles this year.

"For me, it was quite challenging," Gudiño-Rosales noted, saying there were fewer available resources to help with the application process, his initial testing date was postponed and his interviews were conducted online instead of face-to-face.

Gudiño-Rosales, who is taking a gap year before starting medical school, has been accepted to five schools thus far, including UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno. He's waiting to hear back from others before making a decision.

Nationwide, the number of medical school applicants planning to start their studies in 2021 is up 18 percent compared with last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced last week.

That's good news in a nation where there will be an estimated 54,100 to 139,000 shortfall in physicians by 2033, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Nevada ranks 45th nationally for active physicians per 100,000 residents.

Some experts have dubbed the rise in applications the "Fauci effect," referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has been omnipresent on TV during the pandemic, becoming a household name.

Dr. Neil Haycocks, vice dean for academic affairs and education at UNLV's School of Medicine, said he is skeptical that Fauci is responsible for the approximately 11 percent increase in applicants this year for its doctor of medicine (MD) program. The school, which will welcome its incoming class in July, enrolls 60 students each year.

'A noticeable bump'

"It's a noticeable bump," said Haycocks of the approximately 2,000 applications received this year by the deadline of Oct. 1, compared to the roughly 1,800 applications seen annually since the first class arrived in 2017.

But is Fauci responsible?

"I don't think it's a likely explanation for what we're seeing," he said.

Veterinary schools also are seeing increases in applicant numbers this year, he noted. It also typically takes several years for someone to build a competitive application for medical school, he said.

A far more plausible explanation for the uptick, he said, is that many people who were preparing to apply in a year or two decided to move forward as the pandemic disrupted other plans, Haycocks said.

UNLV also had a couple of applicants pull out after thinking about their career choice and getting a better sense of what the delivery of health care entails, he said.

"I think it's cut both ways," Haycocks said of the impact on admissions applications.

Doctor shortage

The UNLV School of Medicine has 240 medical students, and 320 residents and fellows. It will graduate its first class of students in May.

And in October, the school held a groundbreaking ceremony for its medical education building — its first permanent facility — and it will be ready to occupy in summer 2022. It will allow for space to increase the class size in the future, seeking to address a physician shortage.

Across the country, the number of students enrolled in medical schools since 2002 has increased almost 35 percent, according to the association, and 30 new schools have opened "in recent decades." And this year, the number of students entering U.S. medical schools reached the highest point in two decades.

But medical schools still have a fairly low acceptance rate. Plus, it's expensive for students, with a $200,000 median debt among graduates last year, according to the association.

Gudiño-Rosales graduated from UNLV in May with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. He was hoping to get into even just one medical school and said he couldn't be more excited about having five acceptances by December.

Gudiño-Rosales had planned to apply to medical school long before the COVID-19 pandemic. But he said the pandemic, along with social unrest this year, validated why he wanted to become a physician.

"In terms of the pandemic, we've seen Latinos and Black Americans disproportionately affected by COVID-19," he said.

Gudiño-Rosales said he grew up as an immigrant without health insurance or access to health care, and wasn't able to see a doctor on a routine basis.

He said he wants to become a physician who can help other Latino residents and the neighborhoods where he grew up. "Those are always truth I've held."

Touro University Nevada in Henderson has so far slightly exceeded the national average of medical schools, with about 3,700 applications this year for its doctor of osteopathic medicine program — up from 3,015 last year. That's an approximately 22.7 percent increase.

The private university has 180 incoming students per year, with the next group starting in July. Many graduates go into primary care, an area where there's a pronounced shortage of providers in Nevada.

Touro has many qualified applicants, CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkley said.

"We can be very selective of who we choose to come into our program," she said.

Berkley said the university is seeing an uptick in applicants for all of its programs, including physician assistant studies, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing.

While this year's jump was noticeable, Berkley said Touro has seen steady growth in applications for the last several years.

"I think students that have an interest in health care are gravitating to the medical profession," she said, adding that they're seeing a need during the pandemic and want to step up to help. "This is their avenue to do so."

The University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine has nearly matched its applications record of 1,643 in 2019, with 1,635 in hand this year.

UNR Director of Admissions Tamara Martinez-Anderson said she agrees that Fauci is an inspiration, but "most of this year's applicants began preparing for the admissions process long before the pandemic arrived," she said in a statement.

Another local university, Roseman University of Health Sciences, is working to launch a MD program and expects to enroll its inaugural class of students in fall 2024. The university is based in Henderson but also has campuses in Summerlin — which houses the College of Medicine — and South Jordan, Utah.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.


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