A Publication of WTVP

As the new dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP), I’m delighted to be given an opportunity to contribute to InterBusiness Issues. This will give me a chance to highlight the many ways that UICOMP contributes to our community and to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face the campus.

Healthcare delivery is critical to the economic health of central Illinois. Businesses want excellent and cost-effective healthcare for their employees, employees’ families and their retirees. Individuals considering moving to Peoria evaluate access to healthcare when they make their decision. The healthcare delivery system provides thousands of jobs and brings people into Peoria from throughout central Illinois. Educating, training and recruiting talented physicians are essential to Peoria’s healthcare delivery system. UICOMP plays a critical role in supplying physicians.

To become a practicing physician requires completing four years of college, four years of medical school and a minimum of three years of residency. Many physicians also complete a fellowship after residency. So, for example, to be a cardiologist requires four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency and three years of fellowship for a total of 14 years of education after high school. UICOMP teaches 150 medical students and 200 residents, but is just beginning to move into fellowships.

What is the impact of UICOMP’s teaching on the community? The physicians we train are more likely to stay in Peoria to practice. Thirty percent of physicians who currently practice at OSF-SFMC did their residency in a UICOMP-sponsored residency. If you add to this the number of physicians who did their medical school training at the University of Illinois, then 44.4 percent of physicians were educated or trained through the College. This huge impact is also true at other local hospitals and throughout the region.

In addition to this direct effect on physician supply, UICOMP has an indirect effect on the community. Many physicians choose to come to Peoria for its excellent medical community and exceptional hospitals. However, some of these top-notch physicians choose Peoria because UICOMP also provides them with an opportunity to teach students and residents and a chance to be engaged in research. Without our presence, the medical community would be very different and less successful.

As the physician shortage increases, UICOMP’s role as a physician supplier will become even more important. We need to create new residencies, such as the psychology residency planned at Methodist. In addition, there is projected to be a large shortage of fellowship-trained physicians, and UICOMP does not educate many fellows. As medical care becomes increasingly specialized, UICOMP needs to work with its partner hospitals to add new fellowships so we can continue to expand our role as the physician supplier to Peoria and the central Illinois region. iBi