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CI MED expansion of clerkships to BroMenn benefits students, college, community

CI MED expansion of clerkships to BroMenn benefits students, college, community
The Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CI MED) expansion of its medical students’ clinical training to Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal allows students to experience a variety of patient cases and greater involvement in patient care.

That’s according to two CI MED students who have been among the first group of students completing clinical clerkships at BroMenn.

“Here (at BroMenn) general surgery takes on a greater variety of cases than at a larger hospital, which has more specialized units,” Christopher Rouillard, a third-year medical student from Fresno, CA, who is completing his general surgery clerkship at BroMenn, said. “That’s allowing me to experience a bigger variety of cases. It’s made for a very exciting clerkship. Every week is different.”

“At BroMenn, there are so many opportunities to learn from the attending physicians,” Aashka Shah, a third-year medical student from San Ramon, CA, who recently completed her neurology clerkship at BroMenn, said. “I was able to ask questions and learn from their experience.”

Clerkships, also called rotations, generally happen during the third year of medical school. Students work under the supervision of medical staff to gain experience in different specialties, such as general surgery, neurology and pediatrics.

At CI MED -- with its emphasis on early, hands-on clinical experience – students begin their clinical clerkships during the spring of their second year of medical school.

The college’s focus is educating a new generation of physicians trained to develop transformative health care solutions intersecting engineering, science and medicine. The college began in 2015 as a partnership of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Carle Health. The CI MED curriculum immerses students early in clinical learning to discover solutions for healthcare challenges.

Clerkships, under the supervision of Carle Health clinicians, began at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana in March 2020, Jess Orban, CI MED clerkship manager, said. They include:
  • Ten weeks in internal medicine.
  • Ten weeks in surgery.
  • Five weeks in obstetrics/gynecology.
  • Five weeks in neurology.
  • Five weeks in psychiatry.
  • Five weeks in pediatrics.
As CI MED grows, the college needed to add a second site for clinical clerkships.

“As our class size grows, we must increase our faculty, facilities and our administrative staff so that we can accommodate the needs of our students,” Crys Northern, BroMenn clerkship coordinator, said.

BroMenn is now the second clerkship site.

“The Bloomington-Normal area itself provides a different set of experiences for our students and the hospital size affords us to offer one-to-one experiences that our students in Urbana may not receive,” Northern said. “The technology, facilities, equipment and human resources provide a unique experience that our students are enjoying and growing from. BroMenn is also close to home base, so it was a natural fit.”

John Wieland, MD, is BroMenn’s chief medical officer and the clinical site director.

“BroMenn is a community hospital that represents the vast majority of hospitals in the United States,” Dr. Wieland said. “We represent the mainstream of healthcare delivery. It’s great to learn at a large medical center but the practice of medicine frequently is performed at smaller venues.”

CI MED expanded its clerkships to BroMenn in May 2023. Five of the six clerkships are now at BroMenn. The exception is pediatrics, which Carle Foundation Hospital (CFH) still manages, Orban said. Students have access to all six clerkships at CFH and third-year medical students can complete any of the five offered at BroMenn.

In the clinical year that began in March and ends in March 2024, 44 students are going through their clinical training. Of those, 17 will complete at least one clerkship at BroMenn, meaning the remaining 27 will do all their clerkships at CFH, Orban said.

During the 2024-25 clinical year, more students will be completing clerkships at BroMenn, Orban said.

Rouillard received his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and his master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics from University of California, Berkeley. He chose CI MED for medical school because of its focus on developing physician-innovators by melding engineering, education and medicine. In addition, he wanted experience training and learning in a Level I trauma center, Carle Foundation Hospital.

Rouillard’s first three clerkships – family medicine, neurology and psychiatry – were completed at CFH and other sites. He began his general surgery clerkship at BroMenn on May 22 and was the first CI MED student to do a rotation at BroMenn.

Rouillard appreciates that BroMenn’s smaller size allowed him to experience a variety of cases in general surgery, anesthesiology, ear nose and throat, colorectal, urology and orthopedics.

“This has become a much more real-life experience for me,” he said. “This is the kind of institution I see myself working in.”

Rouillard has had daily access to the attending physicians.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” he said. “The faculty is incredible. They bring fresh energy to the clerkships and are excited to teach students. I feel like I’m an integral part of the team here.”

Brian Gebhart, DO, a general surgeon at BroMenn, said “It’s exciting to have these bright new students here.”

“Chris has been great,” Dr. Gebhart said. “He is a stellar medical student. We couldn’t ask for a better medical student to start things off.”

Rouillard’s general surgery clerkship ends July 28. Next, he will complete the remaining clerkships and is scheduled to graduate in May 2025. He hopes to purse a residency in emergency medicine, critical care surgery or orthopedic surgery.

“It’s an honor to pave the way for the students who will be coming here,” he said. “As word gets out about this experience, I think the students will compete to have their general surgery experience here.”

Shah received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Her goal, since high school, has been to become a physician. Her experience working in an intensive care unit as a medical scribe and her internship with a biomedical engineering company clarified her goal to become a physician-innovator.

She chose CI MED for medical school because of the focus on engineering and medicine and her ability to gain early clinical experience.

“The emphasis on innovation and constant change is important in the medical field,” Shah said. “I’m excited to be a part of that culture.”

Shah’s first two clerkships – OB/GYN and pediatrics – were at CFH. Her third clerkship, neurology, was at BroMenn.

“It went really well,” she said. She admitted being the sole medical student in neurology at BroMenn “was a little scary.” But it gave her great access to the attending physicians.

“I learned a lot from the attending physicians,” she said. “BroMenn is a collaborative environment and the attending doctors were excited to explain things to me.”

“It was a great experience,” Shah said. “I’m glad I did it. I was more involved in patient care.”

Her neurology clerkship ended at the end of June and she’s now in her psychiatry clerkship at CFH. She will complete her clerkships and graduate in May 2025. She hopes to pursue a career in trauma and critical care surgery.

Students who have had clerkships so far at BroMenn have provided positive feedback, Orban said. “They have been thrilled with the amount of enthusiasm the providers have had. BroMenn is very quickly getting a positive reputation among the students.”

“To the students, BroMenn has been a real-world example of how healthcare is delivered in those specialties,” Dr. Wieland said. While BroMenn offers “a more personalized experience” for CI MED students, they maintain the additional advantages of gaining experience at a larger institution (CFH) while experiencing the innovation of engineering, he said.

The students’ access to physicians at BroMenn has been mutually rewarding and more physicians are sharing interest to participate, Dr. Wieland said.

To the Bloomington-Normal area, the clerkships have strengthened ties with the rich resources of Carle Foundation Hospital and the University of Illinois, which helps with information sharing and collaboration, Dr. Wieland said.

The clerkships also allow the BroMenn medical staff to showcase BroMenn and the Bloomington-Normal community to the next generation of doctors. Some may return to the community to practice medicine.

“The first clinical clerkships at BroMenn went exceptionally well,” Northern said. “The fact that the students enjoyed their experiences and learned is a tremendous win!”

Categories: Redefining Healthcare

Tags: clerkships, college, doctors, engineering, medicine, rotations, students