The Illinois Model for Medical Education

This model is the first in the world to integrate engineering principles in teaching medicine. Our three-pillar approach infuses basic sciences, clinical sciences, engineering and innovation, interwoven with curricular threads, namely Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Lifespan Health, Health Systems Science, and the Social and Structural Determinants of Health.

Balancing clinical medicine and biosciences with engineering and the humanities centers our work on the human condition.


Leading experts in engineering, medicine and science will teach every course, fostering a generation of board-certified physician-innovators—tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders, trained in medicine and engineering.

Our Curriculum values:

  • Patient-centered care
  • Systems-based delivery
  • Nexus of Engineering and Humanistic Medicine
  • Innovation and research focus
  • Early clinical exposure

Leveraging enterprise-wide expertise and an unmatched culture of interdisciplinary collaboration makes this possible.

Our graduates will be board-certified physicians and

Physician-innovators who are:

  • Creative problem-solvers who challenge the status quo
  • Technology drivers and implementers
  • Comfortable in non-traditional team to create non-traditional solutions to healthcare challenges

Physician-leaders who are:

  • Clinicians who exemplify professionalism and passion
  • Lifelong learners
  • Skilled in the discipline of leadership


Humanistic content, such as arts, humanities, bioethics, patient experiences, the human condition, and healthy aging are captured in the CI MED threads, which are carefully and intentionally woven through our four-year curriculum.

Curriculum Architecture

Foundational Science

In your first 18 months, through the lenses of engineering and innovation, you will leverage your existing competence to deepen and advance knowledge to develop clinical reasoning skills through problem-based and case-based learning and then apply them to patient care in a clinic setting and in the Family Medicine Clerkship.

Clinical Immersion

After solidifying your knowledge foundational to medicine, you will further apply clinical skills to care for patients in immersion clerkships (Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Psychiatry), enhanced by the application of technology, engineering, and innovation, to create  and develop solutions to health/ healthcare challenges. During this time, you can explore a variety of interests as part of a 10-week elective block.

Final Year

Leading up to  your life after medical school,you will have opportunities to gain experience in an area of personal interest and make progress toward your individual careers goals. You will continue to build advanced clinical skills through electives, rotations and sub-internships at sites across the country, and you’ll apply your training and curiosity in the culmination of a capstone project or data science project.


Project Courses

IDEA Project Course (longitudinal)

Harness your peak creativity in the Innovation, Design, Engineering and Analysis (IDEA) projects course. You will regularly meet with Engineering partners to generate new & innovative ideas to improve health care challenges during the immersion clerkships.

Capstone Project or Data Science Project Course (longitudinal)

You’ll make creative and efficient use of your fourth year with finishing either a the capstone project or data science project. One of your IDEA projects can be selected as your capstone project to potentially translate to new approaches, technologies and treatments.

Foundational Science (Spanning Year One and Year Two)

  • 1 Week: Orientation
  • 6 Weeks: Foundations
  • 1 Week: Flex Week
  • 6 Weeks: Cardiovascular
  • 5 Weeks: Respiratory
  • 6 Weeks: Renal (including Fall Break)
  • 2 Weeks: Winter Break
  • 8 Weeks: Clinical Neuroscience
  • 7 Weeks: Musculoskeletal & Integumentary System (including Spring Break)
  • 6 Weeks: Digestion, Nutrition & Metabolism
  • 6 Weeks: Discovery Learning Period (electives, immersions, vacation)
  • 12 Weeks: Endocrinology, Genitourinary, & Women’s Health (including 1 flex week)
  • 9 Weeks: Hematology, Oncology, Infection & Immunity (including Fall Break)
  • 2 Weeks: Winter Break
  • 3 Weeks: Multi-System Conditions
  • 4 Weeks: Synthesis & Summary
  • 3 Weeks: Dedicated study for USMLE Step 1 and flex week

Clinical Immersion

Sequence of clerkships will be determined via lottery for every student.

  • 4 Weeks: Psychiatry Clerkship
  • 4 Weeks: Neurology Clerkship
  • 5 Weeks: Pediatrics Clerkship
  • 5 Weeks: Obstetrics & Gynecology Clerkship
  • 10 Weeks: Internal Medicine Clerkship
  • 10 Weeks: Surgery Clerkship
  • 10 Weeks: Electives, IDEA, Family Medicine Continuity Clinic, & Vacation
  • Clinical Skills Gateway Assessment

Final Year (Spanning Year Four)

  • 4 Weeks: Sub-Internship
    Completion of either Data Science project or Capstone Project
  • 2 Weeks: Career Boot Camp
  • Electives & Away Rotations
  • Graduation

Active Learning

Our highly interactive learning environment is designed for students who want to dig into problems and truly challenge themselves. At Carle Illinois, you won’t simply learn enough to pass a test; you will work in small teams alongside experts in medicine, engineering and science to tackle real-life cases with an interdisciplinary approach that is uniquely Illinois.

Our active learning, engineering-infused curriculum means you will be better prepared for your career as a physician-innovator. As a Carle Illinois student, you’ll experience problem-based learning (the backbone of our organ-based courses), extensive team-based learning in most courses, active learning labs, flipped classrooms, audience response and discussions.

Problem-Based Learning

Problem-based learning is a cornerstone of our engineering-infused curriculum. You will work in teams alongside Carle Illinois’ top faculty to solve authentic, real-world healthcare problems—just like you will in your career as a physician-innovator. Ultimately a more enjoyable experience, this self-directed learning primes and scaffolds your training so you gain deeper understanding of the material and come away with enhanced skills that you’ll retain for life.

Each week you will explore, through the lens of engineering, interrelated concepts centered around one or two real-life medical cases that you’ll work through with a small group of like-minded problem-solvers. Rather than separate physiology, anatomy and pharmacology courses, for example, you will explore all of these issues around a real patient’s case. As a team, you will figure out what you need to learn and understand how to deal with a patient, and future patients, who present with similar problems.

Clinical Integration

Learning clinical skills is seamlessly integrated into our entire curriculum. Not only will you find yourself working in the clinic in your first 10 days at Carle Illinois, you’ll find that you explore many facets of clinical practice fully and cohesively alongside other information. For example, at the same time you learn how the heart works, you will also learn how to examine a patient’s heart, how to use the pertinent machines and equipment, how to interpret the data with which you’re presented, and follow up with that patient in cardiac rehab to see what happens after treatment.

Inter-professional Learning Environment

Your future career as a physician-innovator requires extensive experience collaborating across interdisciplinary teams. Integrated intentionally into the Carle Illinois curriculum, you will participate in simulation experiences alongside health professionals from a range of disciplines, strengthening your ability to provide coordinated care to patients.

Your simulation experiences on healthcare teams at Carle Illinois may include responding to emergency situations or operating in surgical teams. These opportunities will enrich your ability to collaborate with a variety of healthcare providers and equip you with the knowledge and skills required for the real-life scenarios you will encounter as a physician-innovator.

Unique Faculty Model

The Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s unique faculty model means that we draw expertise and teaching support from 10 different colleges at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from our clinical community. More than 400 Carle Illinois faculty serve in a variety of roles including teaching our students in and out of the clinic, developing courses, serving as mentors, and leading academic, clinical and research programs. Carle Illinois students enjoy responsive, compassionate, attentive and instructional support from clinical and academic faculty any time they need it.

MEDI Sessions

Medical Engineering Discovery and Innovation (MEDI) Sessions are focused around important topics in medicine and introduce relevant techniques, technologies, or innovations from the engineering perspective. You will experience the benefits of an active learning environment while simultaneously strengthening your medical learning and expanding your view of the complex environment of modern healthcare.


Early Clinical Experience

You will have immediate clinical experience through interacting with real patients in your first week. During the clinical integration course, you will be paired with a physician mentor who will guide you through developing foundational clinical skills and an understanding of healthcare systems. Your family medicine clerkship begins at the start of your second year.

Carle Health System will offer Carle Illinois students in-depth clinical experiences in internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology. Students will have an early opportunity to engage in advanced clinical electives.

IDEA Projects

Harness your peak creativity through Innovation, Design, Engineering and Analysis (IDEA) projects. You will generate new ideas to improve health care challenges during each clinical clerkship. Then, you’ll work with your research mentor to bring your ideas to life.

Data Science Project

Develop your skills in data science for health care through the Data Science Project. Identify an exciting data-driven question, find data sources to address the question, and access and utilize those data to improve clinical care. You will interact with databases, utilize tools for analyzing clinical or molecular data, and learn about the immense potential of medical data science while familiarizing yourself with the issues of human subjects protection and privacy regulations around data.

Capstone Project

You’ll make creative and efficient use of your fourth year with the capstone project. One of your IDEA projects will be selected as your capstone project and will potentially translate to new approaches, technologies and treatments.

Explore Carle Illinois College of Medicine Capstone Projects here

Discovery Learning

The discovery learning  period is a six-week experience that takes place at the end of the first year. The goal of the discovery learning period is to provide you with hands-on experiences that will bolster your engineering-infused medical education. Your discovery learning experience may take several different forms, and you have the power to choose the immersion program that fits your goals and interests best. Some options include:

Global Studies

The global studies option in your discovery learning course allows you to consider a variety of issues that influence the health of different populations and countries. You will be introduced to globalization with projects that may include: the environment, nutrition, education, innovation, culture, the medical system, agency involvement in health, and other relevant issues. This course culminates in the Global Community Immersion Program, which can fuel data for your IDEA and Capstone Project.

Clinical Immersion

The clinical immersion option in your discovery learning period exposes you to a clinical specialty to learn more about treatment of disorders, lifestyle of the physicians and the experiences of the patients. Here you can deepen your interpersonal communication skills, gain a deeper understanding of the environment in which medical devices are used, observe therapeutic treatment in real-time, and strengthen your clinical skills. As a Carle Illinois student, you will have the opportunity to gain clinical experience very early on in your medical education, and as a result, you may be curious if a certain specialty is right for you. The clinical immersion option during your discovery learning period allows you to take a deeper dive into this specialty, which may help to inform your future residency decisions.

Research Immersion

The research immersion option in your discovery learning period will introduce you to the foundations of multi-disciplinary research in a field of medicine or engineering alongside Illinois faculty researchers, including our world-class research mentors. Here you will learn about the purpose for research, identify research issues, find, evaluate, and use sources effectively, recognize methods associated with different types of data and disciplines, and write a literature review. This experience will prepare you for authoring research papers and exploring advanced research methods.

Self-designed Study

You may identify a separate interest or need in your medical education all together. In this case, you have the freedom and opportunity to pursue a self-designed experience during your discovery learning period. Working together with your mentor or a designated faculty member, you may pursue a multi-disciplinary experience in the medical or engineering field in pursuit of a creative project of your choice.

Sponsored by the Center for Global Studies through support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI NRC Program.