UB featured in PBS Newshour story

Published October 13, 2021

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was featured prominently in a story that aired on PBS Newshour on Oct. 13.

Part of an ongoing series called “Rethinking College,” the story described how, since the start of the pandemic, there’s been a surge of interest in health sciences programs — from nursing to medicine to public health. The segment noted that many medical schools are seeing double-digit increases in applicants since the pandemic began and that the Jacobs School saw a 40% jump in the number of applications for the class that started at UB in August.

The story also mentioned that this phenomenon is often dubbed the “Fauci effect,” after Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has guided much of the nation’s pandemic response.

But in an on-camera interview, Dori Marshall, director of admissions in the Jacobs School, noted that such an effect was unlikely to be the cause behind the spike in applications, since applying to medical school is not something people can do on the spur of the moment. “It’s really a process that takes years to get themselves ready to apply to medical school,” she said.

The piece included an interview with Ming Lian, a first-year student at the Jacobs School, who worked on her medical school applications for two years.

Marshall noted that the increase in applications was more likely due to the fact that the pandemic caused medical schools to move the entire process, including interviews, online. “The expense of flying here was gone,” she said.

Lian agreed. “Being able to do it virtually and at home saved me quite a bit of money,” she said, adding that allowed her to apply to more medical schools.

That virtual aspect had a major effect, in particular, on increasing the numbers of applications from first-generation college students like Lian, who moved to the U.S. from a village in China when she was 13 years old.

The story reported that last year, UB saw a 59% jump in the number of applications from first-generation college students, a demographic that has long been underrepresented in medical schools.

Lian’s reaction when she found out she had been accepted? “That was incredible,” she said. “That was an incredible feeling.”

The story already has received significant viewership. According to Nielsen ratings at the program's website, 2.7 million people watch the program each night. The website has nearly 2 million unique visitors; its Youtube channel has 2.77 million subscribers, and this story has received more than 5,700 views so far. And the story was tweeted from a Twitter account that has 1.1 million followers.