NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired the next generation of doctors, as there's a surge in the number of students in the Tri-State area answering the call to serve.
The hope is to bring underserved communities to the frontlines.
As the pandemic spread throughout the country, straining hospitals and disproportionately affecting minority communities, many have answered the call for help - starting with medical school.
"We had a 26% increase in applications over the previous cycle, so this is really an unusual increase," said Dr. Valerie Parkas, with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Unusual but understood, as nationwide medical school applications for the 2021-2022 school year are up an unprecedented 18%.
Nationwide, medical school applications for the 2021-2022 school year are up an unprecedented 18%.
"We're living through the history of medicine right now," Parkas said. "They might be thinking there are huge disparities in healthcare that COVID is shining a light on and I want to make a difference."
Ashwath Muruganand is headed to NYU's medical school this fall.
"With the pandemic, we saw when we were having low ventilator capacity, a lot of hospitals were prioritizing able bodied lives over people with disabilities," Muruguanand said. "Seeing that was really eye-opening for me."
Muruganand is hoping that as a physician, he can be a voice for the underrepresented.
Applications from underrepresented minorities have soared with Black applicants increasing 41% from this time last year and Hispanic applicants rising 24% the same period, according to Dr. Geoffrey Young with the Association of American Medical Colleges.
"As we lose physicians to retirement and our population continues to grow, I'm very hopeful that this increase in medicine will continue," Young said.
So, he says, they can provide equitable healthcare for future generations.
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