Southern Illinois University School of Medicine – School Profile and Medical Student Interviews


Alexander Worix, MS2


SIU is home to 320 medical students every year. Students at SIU School of Medicine receive training on campuses in Carbondale and Springfield, and in a multitude of clinic facilities across a 66-county region. SIU School of Medicine quickly became a leader in medical education, recognized for its innovative teaching and testing methods. In 1984, SIU and the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation jointly sponsored an invitational conference for medical educators, “How to Begin Reforming the Medical Curriculum.” SIU contribution’s to this meeting served as the impetus for many other U.S. medical schools to begin updating their own curriculums. Training programs in Springfield are supported primarily by the city’s two large tertiary care hospitals – Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s Hospital – combined, these hospitals have more than 45,000 admissions and more than 123,000 emergency room visits annually. 


First-year students study in Carbondale. The year consists of 38 weeks divided into three units organized around organ systems. First year students study anatomy, behavioral science, biochemistry, clinical medicine, and physiology. Cases also incorporate elements of embryology, genetics, immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology, and population health and prevention. History taking and physical examination skills are taught concurrently in all units. Second-year students In the second year at SIU Medicine, the curriculum is fully integrated around organ systems. Materials integrate the disciplines of clinical medicine, immunology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, public health populations and radiology into four, nine week long core instructional units arranged around organ systems. Third and fourth year consists of clinical rotations across various sites.

Curriculum Highlights:

Clinical Skills Laboratory – SIU medical students have access to instructional rooms with dozens of interactive models and simulators to facilitate hands-on training and self-study. Students can learn from a nurse educator who works with course directors and other nurse educators to provide course-specific clinical skills development activities.

Doctoring Curriculum – This curriculum runs through all four years of medical school for SIU medical students and serves as an opportunity to acquire clinical skills via a documented system of procedures, skills, and clinical experiences. Doctoring activities include peer and self-assessment skill-building, physician attitude and conduct sessions (PACs), clinical skills development, and medical humanities issues (including physician/patient relationship, ethics, death and dying, and practice management). Patients are assigned physician mentors during their first and second year; these mentors provide a longitudinal source of feedback for an entire academic year. Additionally, students will be paired with fourth-year students for additional mentorship opportunities.

Empathy Curriculum – Students participate in sessions are based on readings that stimulate discussions relating to issues such as death, culture differences, suffering, suicide, terminal illness, physician burnout, physician errors, and the physician as an integral part of the treatment or focus on cultural differences, palliation of pain at end of life, treating suffering and recognizing the patient’s spirituality.


Springfield is home to more than 25 miles of bike trails, a 4,000-acre lake, 40 scenic parks and golf courses, a wildlife sanctuary, zoo and botanical gardens. The Land of Lincoln boasts a lively arts and music scene. Locally owned restaurants, breweries, wineries and confectioneries dot the historic city.

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