11 months into the pandemic, and medical programs are seeing an uptick in those applying.

You might think the pandemic would scare people away from the medical field, but that’s not what we’re seeing.

Students from all across the nation — and right here in North Dakota — are inspired to help.

Naming the phenomenon after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it’s been dubbed “The Fauci Effect.”

“Students or applicants that go into medicine because something happened in their life. Some event, grandma or whatever. Certainly, with the pandemic, things have happened with our society that have influenced young people to go into medicine,” said Jim Porter, UND Associate Dean with Student Affairs and Admissions.

The University of North Dakota, known for its medical program, tells us they’ve seen a 25 percent increase in applicants.

“Just like the rest of the nation, we saw a pretty big jump in applicants from last year to this year. We had a total of almost 1,450 last year, and this year it’s almost 2,000,” said Alyssa Montgomery, Student Services Admissions Officer with UND Medicine/Health Sciences.

Officials are welcoming this re-emerging interest for science and medicine.

“Medical school is always competitive. It does add more work for our office I would say to go through, but it’s also great to see so many applicants that are wanting to pursue medicine,” said Montgomery.

Many high school seniors are getting a jump-start on their medical training by attending Career Academy on the Bismarck State College campus.

Eden Schlinger says she’s happy to see her peers so motivated.

“I think that being able to go in with a purpose of wanting to help out, even with this pandemic is really important because we need people to research and do it, and look for the future,” said Schlinger.

Brooke Burgard, a senior at Bismarck High School, comes from a family of nurses and isn’t going to let COVID keep her from helping those in need.

“I just think it’s really cool because I think a lot of people may be turned away from the medical field. Seeing now with the pandemic, that’s it’s more than just that, it can really help other people and it’s more just about being able to help enrich people’s lives and help them get better and back to their reality and normal-ness,” said Burgard.

UND officials tell us the future is looking bright.

“I think because of the increased enrollment, The Fauci Effect, or whatever it is. I see a very highly qualified pool of applicants that have come through this last cycle,” said Porter.

Despite the growth, UND will still only be able to accept 78 of the 2,000 applicants. Because they are a state-funded school, they will not be changing their class-size at this time.