UI explores more autonomous medical education in Urbana

UI explores more autonomous medical education in Urbana

URBANA — The University of Illinois is exploring the possibility of establishing a more autonomous College of Medicine here and aligning itself with Carle as its clinical partner.

Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Tripp Umbach was brought in to conduct a review of Urbana's College of Medicine and determine "whether or not having a more independent college of medicine is feasibly advantageous," said Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

The College of Medicine in Urbana currently is one of several regional campuses within the College of Medicine in Chicago.

The report is expected to be released early next week. Wise said she plans to share it with UI President Bob Easter, the Board of Trustees, academic senate and other groups.

"We'll read it carefully, see what they're recommending and make plans accordingly," she said.

Carle serves as a primary education center for medical students in Urbana and a number of its physicians teach at the medical college, according to Carle spokeswoman Jennifer Hendricks Kaufmann.

The feasibility study, she said, will help Carle and UI officials "understand how we might better collaborate and advance health care for all."

"Illinois is a natural partner for Carle not only because of proximity but because of the incredible resources at Urbana-Champaign," Hendricks Kaufmann said.

Carle administrators will review the study's findings this month; after reading it they will then be able to determine how to proceed, she said.

"Any college of medicine has to have a clinical partner," Wise said. "Many colleges of medicine own their hospital. We wouldn't own a hospital so we're seeking partners to deal with the clinical aspects," she said.

The UI already operates a hospital in Chicago. It is where students and doctors with the UIC College of Medicine, the largest medical college in the country, work.

In Urbana, Carle would be a logical partner for a more "independent" medical college, according to UI officials.

"From what I understand there have been several joint appointments — 50 percent with Carle, 50 percent with the College of Medicine in Chicago or part of it is with us. What we would want to do is increase that number of faculty" that would be involved in teaching and research on the Urbana campus, Wise said.

Research would be conducted either at Carle or in UI laboratory space.

"All these details would need to be worked out," Wise said.

The campus' aim is to have a "robust" medical enterprise, said Provost Ilesanmi Adesida.

The former dean of the UI College of Engineering said he is interested in bringing together doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and others together to collaborate on ways to advance health care.

He envisions more cross-campus collaboration.

"How do we get engineers into rotation with doctors?" Adesida asked. How does the UI support physician inventors or engineers who want to advance medicine? How does it bring in information technology and manufacturing research?

"Before you propose anything you have to know what you want and what could you do," Adesida said.

Urbana's College of Medicine dates back to the 1970s. It has 18 full-time faculty, five part-time basic sciences faculty and 46 part-time clinical faculty. Currently there are 165 medical students who are following the traditional medical school education; a majority of them are in their first year. These students will earn an M.D. from UIC.

The college also is home to the Medical Scholars program. Those students work on an M.D. (from UIC) plus a Ph.D., J.D. or MBA from the Urbana-Champaign campus. There currently are 122 medical scholars.

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