Much has been said about how COVID-19 has disrupted the academic year of traditional colleges. These students are now learning from home and using technology to continue their education. J. Lyle Bootman, who for nearly 30 years as dean of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, wants people to consider the plight of medical school students. Mr. Bootman was a faculty member with The University of Arizona for 40 years and as such, was closely involved with the efforts of students looking to break into fulfilling medical careers. The quality of education that medical students receive should be of interest to the general public; it is these individuals who go on to be doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and technicians who may one day treat them.
In an April 2020 article from the American Medical Association, we hear from a number of medical schools that are still accepting applicants and conducting interviews. The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, for example, is using Zoom and GoToMeeting to arrange online interviews. Moreover, the admissions dean at the Ohio school tells prospects to “prepare as if it were in person, which means dress for success.” To those who move forward, a hurdle soon appears and that’s a pause on the 2021 medical school application cycle. J. Lyle Bootman, who received his pharmacy education at The University of Arizona and his doctorate at The University of Minnesota, knows the bond that students develop with the schools that accept them. It is highly unfortunate that the future has been put on hold, but Mr. Bootman wants these students to know that things will return to normal eventually.
The pain extends to current medical school students who, according to the AMA, are seeing volunteer and “shadow” opportunities dry up. Social distancing has obviously affected those roles and to those who worry about how it will reflect on their pre-med transcripts, an associate dean of admissions of a college in Utah says “everyone is in the same boat … This pandemic is an international crisis. We are all going through it together. So future students, your application is going to be impacted like everyone else’s.” This shared sacrifice is something that admissions departments around the country need to take into account in the coming years. When J. Lyle Bootman was senior vice president of health sciences for Arizona Health Sciences Center, four health colleges and a medical center were under his guidance. This level of decision-making showed Mr. Bootman the wide-ranging impact that each and every choice brings. In the future when all is well again, he hopes that medical school students are able to fully immerse themselves in the training that sets them up for success.