U of Illinois medical school welcomes inaugural class

The Carle Illinois College of Medicine in Urbana, Ill., part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, officially opened July 2 and welcomed its inaugural class of 32 students, The News-Gazette reports.

Here are five things to know about the medical school:

1. Students began their weeklong orientation July 2, which included a welcome from Dean King Li, MD. Carle-Illinois is the first medical school in the nation to fuse medicine and engineering to train a new type of "physician scientist" to tackle healthcare issues with innovative tools to make care more affordable and accessible, the report states.

2. The school's curriculum consists of 13 units with a particular theme, such as the cardiovascular system, with each unit being led by three directors — a practicing physician, a basic scientist and an engineer — and maintaining components of each discipline. Each unit is infused with the college's "four Cs": competence, compassion, curiosity and creativity.

3. Rather than seeing and treating patients during the latter part of their medical school career, students will begin seeing patients during their first year "to put what they're learning in the classroom in real context," an administrator told The News-Gazette.

4. Students will also have the opportunity to train in the school's Jump Simulation Center, which features an ICU suite with two hospital beds, an operating room and four clinical skills rooms made to resemble a traditional physician's office. Students will also be able to interact with "standardized patients" — people hired to portray patients — and Sim Man, a high-fidelity mannequin controlled by technicians behind a one-way glass mirror or bank of monitors, the report states.

5. The first class of students, who all received full four-year scholarships, comprises a mix of students from Illinois and other states, with many of them possessing engineering degrees. Dr. Li told The News-Gazette a significant number of students in the class are underrepresented minorities.

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