TAMPA, Fla. — The Coronavirus pandemic has many more concerned about their health than ever before, and it’s inspiring students to join the health field.

Universities across the country report seeing an increase in applications to their Public Health programs.

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According to the Associated Press, this school year applications for Master’s Public Health programs are up 20% nationally. Officials at the University of South Florida said they’re also seeing more students interested in Public Health from undergraduate to doctorate.

“Public health is one of those fields most people have never heard of, they don't think of it as a career choice, but now everyone has heard of public health, everyone knows Dr. Fauci, everyone knows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they know the World Health Organization,” said Dr. Donna Petersen, Dean USF College of Public Health. “They’ve seen numbers and data and they've heard experts, so people now know what public health is.”

Dr. Petersen said now that people are more aware of what public health careers are, they want to get involved.

USF reports seeing more students applying for the Masters of Public Health program in concentrations directly related to COVID like global health, preparedness, and infection control.

Dr. Petersen said while she hopes it’s not just COVID impacting students’ decisions, careers in Public Health are in demand and provide a lot of room for growth in the future.

“I'm hopeful that it's more than just COVID,” Dr. Petersen said. “That people are seeing public health as something they hadn't thought of before, and they're seeing what it does, and they're seeing the array of ways public health officials engage in, and they're getting inspired by that.”