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Michigan’s medical schools see increase in applications

School officials credit various reasons for increasing number of applications

In this Friday, April 24, 2020 photo, Wayne State University medical school student Michael Moentmann swabs Leon Wheeler's nostril at a COVID-19 testing center in Detroit. Moentmann, 23, had planned to observe surgeries this spring but then a highly contagious virus disrupted everything. So he's volunteering in one of America's hardest-hit cities, testing police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and other essential workers who keep Detroit running. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
In this Friday, April 24, 2020 photo, Wayne State University medical school student Michael Moentmann swabs Leon Wheeler's nostril at a COVID-19 testing center in Detroit. Moentmann, 23, had planned to observe surgeries this spring but then a highly contagious virus disrupted everything. So he's volunteering in one of America's hardest-hit cities, testing police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and other essential workers who keep Detroit running. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Some medical schools in Michigan are increasing their class size because they're receiving an influx of applicants during a time marked by a shortage of physicians.

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine received nearly 9,000 applications for its next 190-student class, said Joel Maurer, assistant dean of admissions. Last year, 7,959 students applied.

At Western Michigan University's Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, 54 students graduated in 2018. Class size since then has steadily spiked from 60 to 72 and now 84 students, according to Jean Shelton, WMed assistant dean of admissions and student life.

Meanwhile Michigan State's medical school, which has a class size of about 200 students, said it's at capacity.

MSU would be required to hire more faculty and expand at its East Lansing and Grand Rapids campuses to increase their class size, Maurer said.

For the incoming class of 2019, six of Michigan's medical schools received 43,602 applications, up 4,193 from 2018 and up 15,157 from 2014, which likely reflect prospective students submitting applications at multiple medical schools, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The growing number of applicants is a good sign for those concerned about the coming physician shortage, said Geoffrey Young, senior director of student affairs and programs for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“It really demonstrates a strong interest in a career in medicine,” Young said. “This is what we think is critical as the nation faces a shortage of physicians.”

School officials credit various reasons for the increasing number of applications.

Katherine Ruger, associate dean of Admissions and Student Life at MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, thinks this year’s applicants had more time for submissions since the coronavirus pandemic shut down reduced their opportunities to do other things like traveling.

The college received 6,653 applications in the last window, Ruger said, which is up from the 6,169 applications in 2019.

Related: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to outline next steps for schools to reopen this fall