Training the physician-innovators of the future starts with recruiting the right students. Ours are not only brilliant, they’re also compassionate, creative problem solvers.

Once at Carle Illinois, we immerse them in active learning that’s human-centered, problem-based, and engineering-infused. The end-result? Innovative, caring physicians ready to lead the way to better health care for all.

Carle Illinois medical student Aaron Brown:

Problem solving to make a difference during medical school

When Aaron Brown was applying to medical schools in 2018, he was motivated by a dream: to strengthen marginalized communities in honor of his mother, a generous woman who persevered in the face of challenges.

“Helping the community through public health is a big part of my dream to become a doctor,” Aaron said.

It was a dream he assumed would become reality after medical school, but as a student at Carle Illinois, Aaron’s dreams are already taking root in the Champaign-Urbana community. The college’s focus on case-driven, problem-based, active learning means students connect with patients from the first week of classes. These interactions become catalysts for problem solving and innovation.

“My classmates are really brilliant and come from so many different backgrounds,” said Aaron Brown of the inaugural class at Carle Illinois. “They also really care about helping people.” Whether they’re interested in solving healthcare problems through health policy, or learning about global health issues through Carle Illinois’ Global Community Immersion Program, the scholarships that support these students also support the future of health care and innovation they’ll contribute to the world.

For Aaron, human-centered problem solving is taking shape as “a different kind of community health fair.” His model gives the community ownership, rather than the typical top-down model with experts who tell people what they need.

“Before I even began planning it I was going out to ask the community what they want and need,” Aaron said. “I’ve been going to Champaign Community Coalition meetings and finding resources that I can connect with others.”

It’s Carle Illinois’ patient-centered approach to healthcare that leaves Aaron with no doubt he’s studying medicine in exactly the right place.

“You can know a textbook way to identify a certain pathology, but patients are people, so they aren’t all textbook,” Aaron said. “Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to learn in an environment that integrates problem-based learning and clinical experience. Carle Illinois gets us into real situations early in med school so we can see multiple presentations of a single pathology. It makes us more aware of each individual.”

Our students are very diverse, coming from very different backgrounds. What they do have in common is a quantitative background and the innovative mindset to be curious and always ask ‘Why?’

—Dr. King Li, Carle Illinois dean

In the long run, Aaron wants to be a cardiologist who approaches heart health from a holistic perspective, incorporating the impact of lifestyle choices like diet and exercise on the heart. He also wants to build on his graduate school research at Georgetown University. There, he examined the correlation between hypertension and diabetes, two conditions common for African Americans.

“When I realized my goals were a good fit with Carle Illinois and I would have the tools and support I needed to fulfill my dreams, I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

“Helping the community through public health is a big part of my dream to become a doctor,” Aaron said.

It was a dream he assumed would become reality after medical school, but as a student at Carle Illinois, Aaron’s dreams are already taking root in the Champaign-Urbana community. The college’s focus on case-driven, problem-based, active learning means students connect with patients from the first week of classes. These interactions become catalysts for problem solving and innovation.

For Aaron, human-centered problem solving is taking shape as “a different kind of community health fair.” His model gives the community ownership, rather than the typical top-down model with experts who tell people what they need.

“Before I even began planning it I was going out to ask the community what they want and need,” Aaron said. “I’ve been going to Champaign Community Coalition meetings and finding resources that I can connect with others.”

It’s Carle Illinois’ patient-centered approach to healthcare that leaves Aaron with no doubt he’s studying medicine in exactly the right place.

“You can know a textbook way to identify a certain pathology, but patients are people, so they aren’t all textbook,” Aaron said. “Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to learn in an environment that integrates problem-based learning and clinical. Carle Illinois gets us into real situations early in med school so we can see multiple presentations of a single pathology. It makes us more aware of each individual.”

In the long run, Aaron wants to be a cardiologist who approaches heart health from a holistic perspective, incorporating the impact of lifestyle choices like diet and exercise on the heart. He also wants to build on his graduate school research at Georgetown University. There, he examined the correlation between hypertension and diabetes, two conditions common for African Americans.

“When I realized my goals were a good fit with Carle Illinois and I would have the tools and support I needed to fulfill my dreams, I knew this was where I wanted to be.”