Rose Schutzberg was eight years old when she and her mother discovered Rose’s baby sister, Victoire, dead from SIDS — sudden infant death syndrome.”I remember seeing emergency room doctors trying to resuscitate my sister and being really affected by how hard they were trying to save her life,” she said.Some of the doctors attended her sister’s funeral the next week, too.”That sort of commitment to me and to my family really meant a lot to me. And I think since that time, I’ve always wanted to give back to people and offer them the same support in a time where it feels like your entire world is crashing around you,” she said.That tragedy, and the physicians’ response to it, would change the course of Schutzberg’s life. Now she’s a fourth-year student at UMass Medical School, where she thought she would study to become a primary care physician.But the coronavirus pandemic changed has changed her path.”I saw that there was a really deep need for patients, especially, to get better mental health care. So my mind kind of shifted toward maybe pursuing psychiatry instead of primary care,” she said.She went from maybe to definitely after helping treat a patient who spent three weeks without access to a psychiatric bed due in part to COVID-19’s impact.”It just felt like this really kind of like eureka moment where I was like, OK, you know what, Rose? This is the path that you’re supposed to go on,” she said.Schutzberg is hardly the only medical student affected by the pandemic. Applications to medical schools are up by about 20 percent nationwide, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.UMass Medical School is seeing about the same increase in applicants, according to the school’s chancellor, Dr. Michael Collins. Collins said the students are seeing their importance in a new light.”It’s really a very, very exciting moment to be in medicine,” he said. “Can you ever remember a time like this that has inspired students?” 5 Investigates Karen Anderson asked him.”Sort of around 9/11, when people recognized the importance of a moment of national purpose, if you will, and I actually think we are in a moment of national purpose,” he said. “The fact that science was able to create vaccine discoveries, that hospitals were able to care for people in such large numbers… it’s very special.”For current students like Schutzberg, Friday is match day, when they learn where they will perform their residency.”I realized that there was just so much work that needed to be done and that if I wasn’t going to do it, probably no one else would. So someone has to do it,” she said.
BOSTON — Rose Schutzberg was eight years old when she and her mother discovered Rose’s baby sister, Victoire, dead from SIDS — sudden infant death syndrome.”I remember seeing emergency room doctors trying to resuscitate my sister and being really affected by how hard they were trying to save her life,” she said.