Deans Carriero and Pardue discuss uptick in applications for medical and nursing schools

Deans Carriero and Pardue
Jane Carreiro, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Karen Pardue, dean of the Westbrook College of Health Professions

Jane Carreiro, D.O., vice president of Health Affairs and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Karen Pardue, dean of the Westbrook College of Health Professions, were recently interviewed by Maine Public for a story about significant interest in medical and nursing schools during the pandemic.

While more students are skipping or delaying their postsecondary education because of the pandemic, there is an uptick in applications for medical and nursing schools.

“We have seen an almost 50% increase in completed applications,” Carriero told Maine Public. “For medical school, you have to go through a national, standardized application system and there are multiple levels to the applications. So, a completed application means somebody has gone through all three or four levels of what they have to do.”

That shows students are serious about getting in, according to Carriero.

The strong interest in medicine is being seen all over the country. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), applications to medical programs are up by about 18%, compared with less than 2% the year before.

A desire to “give back” or “answer the call” is particularly strong among students in their 30s and 40s who are perhaps retraining and seeking a different career path, according to Pardue.

“In that population, absolutely,” she told Maine Public. “COVID has been a motivator and a driving force. We read in the essays, ‘I want to do something that makes a difference. This is bigger than me, and this is making a difference.’”

The economy is also seen as a driving force in the added interest. According to the AAMC, medical careers may be viewed as more stable in a time when other industries have been upended.

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