Illinois’ location in the center of the United States, with a large rural surface and the sixth largest population in the country, means that it offers a diverse and challenging environment to study medicine. While Chicago offers a very urban setting for universities and clinical practice in many hospitals, the rural areas also open up teaching and practice to a whole different type of population. Chicago is the third-most populous city in the US, adding to the density of medical care required in its health facilities.
Here are the top medical schools in the state of Illinois.
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Best Medical Schools in Illinois
1. University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
The University of Chicago is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States and the Pritzker School of Medicine is the best medical school in Illinois. Unlike many other medical schools, Pritzker is concentrated in one location end-to-end: all divisions and professional schools are placed close to the affiliated hospital and the research laboratories. This means that, as a medical student at Pritzker, you will be in a veritable microcosm offering both intellectual and social advantages from the interaction with your fellow students and the ease with which you can access all resources at your disposal.
The University of Chicago has had a medical school since 1927 and was named after the Pritzker family of Chicago who have been massive benefactors of the school. The University of Chicago Medicine hospital is known as a Top Teaching Hospital and is the core of the medical campus. It offers a huge Center for Care and Discovery. Alongside it, on-campus facilities also include Comer Children’s Hospital, Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, and Mitchell Hospital. Students at the Pritzker School can additionally do clinical rotations at NorthShore University HealthSystem, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, and Ingalls Memorial.
Class sizes at the Pritzker School are very small, with only 81 students enrolled and 28% of them coming from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine.
2. Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
Dr. Rosalind Franklin took the photograph revealing the structure of DNA in 1952. This is why the University of Medicine & Science is named in her honor. Originally the Chicago Hospital-College of Medicine, RFU dates from 1912 and now offers courses of study in five colleges and across over 30 graduate health profession and science programs.
The Chicago Medical School offers students a state-of-the-art facility for their studies, including simulation and skills labs and a wide variety of opportunities for conducting their clinical practice. It is a community-based school with a serious focus on involvement in its environment, including a strong attention to diversity in its admission policy. Students at the Chicago Medical School can practice in inner-city hospitals specifically to help the underserved communities, as well as in the Federal Health Care Center that provides medical care to US military personnel.
3. University of Illinois College of Medicine
Also known simply as the Illinois College of Medicine, the medical school at the University of Illinois has four different sites where the MD program can be studied: Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana-Champaign. The latter is now being transferred to the newly established Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
The college has existed since 1882 when it was known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago. It is now located in one of the largest medical campuses in the world, in the Chicago campus, also including the University of Illinois Medical Center and the colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Applied Health Sciences. Students enrolled at one of the other campuses also have direct access to medical centers where they can do their clinical training.
In Peoria, the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois is open to the university students, as well as many other hospitals and the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, known for being the busiest pediatric hospital in central Illinois. The Rockford campus includes the Center for Rural Health Professions, dedicated to improving healthcare in rural communities. Finally, the Carle Illinois College of Medicine is known as the “world’s first engineering-based college of medicine” – integrating engineering and entrepreneurship into the medical education.
4. Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
The Stritch School of Medicine is one of the top medical schools in Illinois. It is located in Maywood, in the Loyola University Medical Center which includes Foster G. McGraw Hospital, numerous research centers and health research laboratories. This medical center in the western suburbs of Chicago offers multiple residency and fellowship training programs alongside the MD program.
The curriculum at Stritch includes two years of classroom learning split into blocks where students focus on one class at a time, in an innovative approach to pre-clinical learning. Clerkships begin in the third year, while in the fourth year students are required to take two subinternships – wards and intensive care – as well as an emergency medicine clerkship and residencies.
5. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
The Feinberg School of Medicine officially held its opening ceremony in October 1859 and has since been instrumental in research and education for medical students within Northwestern University. They were among the first medical schools to accept women, from 1926. They were also the first medical school to establish a link to the US Veterans Administration in 1946.
The mission of Feinberg School of Medicine, one of the best medical schools in Illinois, today is to impact the practice of medicine through discovery and education.
Class size is typically around 160 and they welcome students from all over the US as well as focusing on students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine (23% of the 2020 incoming class). Students here can work on a variety of outreach and research projects, as well as dedicate time to the Institute for Global Health which works across the world on improving people’s health.
6. Rush University – Rush Medical College
Also based in Chicago, the Rush Medical College allows students to practice at two of the largest hospitals in the immediate area: Rush University Medical Center and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County (a public hospital).
The MD program here focuses on two years of classroom learning accompanied by early clinical experiences, before the third and fourth years when the bulk of the clinical training takes place. The Rush Medical College is heavily committed to community service and offers access to various such opportunities via the Rush Community Service Initiatives Program.
7. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
We end our list of top medical schools in Illinois with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Established in 1970, the SIU School of Medicine aims to educate physicians to remain in central and southern Illinois. They specialize in medical education, patient care, research and community service.
Their multidisciplinary clinics are the locations where students can have their clinical practice and where they offer medical care to communities from the whole region. As they are a community-based school, they don’t own any hospitals, but they are partnered with numerous hospitals for students to practice at.
The SIU School of Medicine is also very active in research – especially in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and audiology.
I hope that this article on the best medical schools in Illinois was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Medical School Category!