SASKATOON -- The University of Saskatchewan is reporting an increase in applications for both its College of Medicine and College of Nursing for the fall 2021 semester compared to last year.

Medical school applications increased from 537 in 2020 to 727 in 2021 for the 100-seat program.

The nursing program saw a 12 per cent increase in applications as of Jan. 26. The college says it plans on seeing another push before the application deadline closes March 31. The school admits 345 students per year.

“I think as the months have unfolded and people have really seen the impact of nursing and other members of the healthcare team, and really their ability and their desire to sacrifice for the greater good, has been inspiring,” said College of Nursing Associate Dean Hope Bilinski.

The College of Nursing says the nurse practitioner program has seen an 58 per cent increase in the number of applications for Fall 2021 entrance as well.

“I think COVID has really inspired a lot of students to be and pursue nursing has a career. It's really amplified the requirements that nurses need to follow and they have become true role models in society,” said University of Saskatchewan second year nursing student Hannah Lytle.

Lytle says her mother, a home care nurse, inspired her to pursue the calling.

“I feel like everybody just wants to contribute and have that good sense of camaraderie, because I think the pandemic has made people really come together as community and work together to try and get back to normal,” said Lytle.

Becky Bayda is another second year nursing student who has been working at Royal University Hospital.

“I love it, it's fast paced, it's so interesting. I thought I'd be really worried about wounds and those types of things but I'm actually fascinated. I think I want to be in surgery,” said Bayda.

She feels the surge in nursing school application stems from how the occupation is portrayed in the media during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seen as like a critical line of defence, alongside other health care professionals, fighting on the front line, safeguarding our neighbours and our friends and others. I think people want to do their part in helping during the pandemic,” said Bayda.

The College of Nursing has said the surge in application will not lead to more people being admitted to its programs.