AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Fauci Effect is the phenomenon that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s handling of the pandemic is driving an increased interest in the medical field. When the pandemic began last year, the medical school application process had already wrapped up, but this cycle, the Medical College of Georgia saw a 23 percent increase in applications.

“I think seeing influential leaders such as Dr. Fauci has really affirmed my interest in medical education. He’s someone who has spent a lot of the pandemic educating the public,” said Amanda Delgado, second year MCG student.

MCG Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Doug Miller, says virtual interviews may also play a role in the application spike.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of interviews of students online and accomplish our same admissions process, that’s I think been another factor as well,” Dr. Miller said.

Dr. Miller says it’s likely medical school interviews will be conducted virtually next cycle as well.

“We enjoy the in person experience. Obviously it’s a good way to assess a student’s enthusiasm and interest in a medical career, but in conversation with our admissions team and admissions leadership, across the country I think there will be another year of these virtual interviews because of safety concerns,” Dr. Miller said.

Delgado thinks this can break financial barriers for aspiring doctors.

“Maybe decreasing this barrier to apply to medical school by offering virtual applications, [offers] a more diverse applicant pool and I think that offers a lot for medicine because we really want to see people from all different backgrounds becoming physicians,” Delgado said.

Delgado says the pandemic has given her an opportunity to be a healthcare education advocate, both in hands on patient care, and through created an educational YouTube channel with her classmates.

“There’s a lot of new information, people aren’t necessarily sure which sources to trust, and to be someone who can provide unbiased information in a format that’s easy to digest for the public is something that Dr. Fauci has done and I really think it’s something that’s influential to me in my career,” Delgado says.

Dr. Miller says the pandemic introduced permananet changes to the field of medicine.

“All of us, whatever we practice, have been affected by the pandemic and the new rules we’ve had to operate under. It’s made us much more conscious about protective gear, hand washing, personal wellbeing, and how we can cope with things in general terms under stressful conditions,” Dr. Miller said. “We will all be changed forever by the pandemic.”