LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Call it the “Fauci Effect.” Medical schools across the country are experiencing an 18 percent surge in applications, according to a report by the Association of American Medical College.

Admissions officers attribute the unprecedented rise to noted epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other health care professionals combating the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

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It’s “very flattering,” Fauci told NPR. “Probably a more realistic assessment is that, rather than the Fauci Effect, it’s the effect of a physician who is trying to and hopefully succeeding in having an important impact on an individual’s health, as well as on global health. So if it works to get more young individuals into medical school, go ahead and use my name. Be my guest.”

In California, applications have jumped 50 percent at Stanford University School of Medicine, NPR reports, 38 percent at UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento and 35 percent at the California Northstate University College of Medicine in Elk Grove, the Sacramento Bee reports.

At the University of Minnesota Medical School, applications are up 40 percent at the Twin Cities campus and a whopping 77 percent at the Duluth campus.

“All of the many issues related to the pandemic have motivated young people to make decisions about their career and commit to applying to medical school,” UMN Medical School Associate Dean for Admissions Dimple Patel tells CBS Minnesota.

Patel says she sees the pandemic and issues of health equity and social justice mentioned in application essays she reads. She also says a tough job market can lead to more people seeking out post-grad opportunities.

Rahi Patel (no relation to Dimple Patel), a University of Minnesota junior on a pre-med track, says everything that’s happened this year has only cemented her feelings about applying next summer.

“You see on the TV the healthcare workers and it’s obviously really taking a toll, but I think it also just underscores how important they are and the impact that they have,” Rahi Patel said. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”

Even though it could mean more competition for Rahi Patel when she eventually applies, she says it’s great more people want to pursue medicine.

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“The demand is going to go up and we’ve seen the need for healthcare workers now,” she said.