TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For future doctors, the pandemic caused many to heed the call to the medical world. Medical schools across the country, including the University of Arizona, saw record numbers of applications. It’s a phenomenon called the “Fauci Effect” because the medical leadership of the pandemic and the impact of medicine on a global scale inspired many to join the medical field.
“It’s not just any job,” says Nandini Sodhi, a first-year medical student at UA. “It’s a service and it’s an honorable burden.”
Since the 8th grade, Sodhi knew she wanted to do something in medicine. She explored the field in a clinical setting as she began her undergraduate years at UA.
“My first toe dive into medicine was an intern in childhood, which pretty much meant I got to play with kids,” she said. “And I found that there are simple things in medicine that bring people so much joy and that doctors have an intimate aura in their patients’ lives. It’s a privilege and a responsibility.”
She is passionate about bringing medicine to all communities as she noticed a lack of healthcare in rural areas.
“I would much rather integrate that scientific background with people and eventually work in rural health care, to bridge that gap between rural and urban health care,” she said.
When the pandemic hit, she felt even more inspired to get into the medical field.
“The responsibility that doctors have was highlighted,” she said.
This “Fauci effect” brought about 7,000 applications to UA’s College of Medicine, the highest number ever in 2020. The Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Glen Fogerty now said the number is stabilizing as they usually receive 6,000 applications. But the school only has 120 seats per cohort, which creates an intense competitive atmosphere.
He said that while they don’t see that peak from 2020, the “Fauci effect” has led people from other fields to answer the call.
“It’s from other populations, from the English Department, engineers, humanities, so other people get that calling for medicine,” he said.
While the pandemic inspired many to get into the field, many doctors felt burned out.
“We have a team of psychologists, but we’ve seen more students asking for help,” he said. “We focus on wellness and wellness programs.”
With all this in mind, Sodhi wants to focus on a balance between school, work and life.
“I’m starting that practice of work-life balance, whether that’s in sophomore year of medical school or 10 years later,” she said.
And after 26 interview essays later, she’s now a few weeks into her freshman year and ready for the journey ahead.
“I absolutely hope to do my residency here and serve this community,” she said.
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