PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ask anyone in medicine and they'll tell you, the COVID-19 pandemic was the answer to their calling.
"It's reminding us why we got into this field in the first place, said Aaron Cedric Llanes, UArizona medical student.
So many have heard the call in fact, 7000 applied to the University of Arizona's College of Medicine in 2020, the most ever.
"Less than 2% will get an offer," said Dr. Glen Fogerty.
A calling denied for thousands, that's because the college of medicine only has a class size of 120 students.
"When it's all said and done, with our medical school, if you get all the way into an acceptance, 30 people would have touched your application."
Dr. Fogerty, Associate Dean of Admissions and Recruitment at UArizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, gets to be part of the process of who receives 'the call.'
"They show this extra resiliency, this drive, this determination. We call it the grit factor."
"You hear a lot of rejections," Llanes said.
Fogerty and the College of Medicine saw that grit in Aaron.
"I applied to 25 schools. Got secondary invites to all of them but only got an invitation to do an interview for one," Llanes said.
That was on his first round of applications back in 2018, all of them, rejections.
"Feeling that I'd let myself down and let my family down."
Still, he was compelled to answer the call.
Llanes said he worked as a paramedic in the meantime but went through the arduous application process all over again.
"Got interview invites for four schools and then got accepted into two and then wait-listed at one."
In 2020 he was called and told he was accepted to the UArizona College of Medicine.
"It was really through their support, my family, my friends, my mentors that I was able to really pick myself up again and subject myself through that process once again and thankfully now I find myself here."
There's a growing number of others like him who also have heard the call.
The Association of American Medical Colleges reports an 18% rise in applications to medicine programs around the country: the so-called 'Fauci effect.'
"For us I think it is really people that have seen how this pandemic has affected family and friends. I think when I get back to that core of that calling, they're feeling it and they're hearing it," Fogerty said.
Even if they don't get to answer, Aaron could be an example to others: keep following the call and you might get the answer you want.