Active Learning Environment

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.

Standardized Patient Program

Your medical education at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine is enhanced through our Standardized Patient Program, which gives you hands-on patient care experience in a simulated environment.

Like most standardized patient programs at other medical schools, our standardized patients are trained to simulate medical cases and evaluate student performance. This helps you develop both your practical and interpersonal clinical skills by practicing a range of skills, from taking patient histories and conducting physical examinations, to important communication skills like counseling or delivering bad news.

At Carle Illinois, we’ve taken the standardized patient program further by integrating it throughout the curriculum. As a medical student here, you will first encounter a case in your problem-based learning environment, later meet that “patient” in the simulated clinic setting in your Introduction to Clinical Practice course, and then connect with them once again in a later case. As a result, you not only get more opportunities to practice and refine your skills, you’ll benefit from longitudinal exposure to these cases.

What is a standardized patient?

A standardized patient is someone who has been hired and trained to simulate a specific patient case. The standardized patient fully embraces the role of the patient, including everything from patient history to expected physical findings. Standardized patients are also able to assess your performance to an extent that is as valuable as faculty feedback.


The Standardized Patient Program takes place at the JUMP Simulation Center, which features:

  • 4 outpatient exam rooms
  • 2 ICU rooms
  • A skills laboratory
  • 4 debrief rooms
  • A control center for viewing of learner performance

Exam rooms include exam tables, a full complement of outpatient diagnostic equipment, and a computer for documenting. These rooms also have two video cameras for both live and recorded viewing. Recorded videos may be reviewed from personal computers.