SIU, SIH open new facility for SIU medical students

By Brandi Courtois, News Editor

After 40 years of working together, SIU School of Medicine and Southern Illinois Healthcare have collaborated on a new facility that will provide new resources for both medical students and patients.

SIH, which funded the new 40,000 square foot facility, is leasing the building to SIU School of Medicine. The facility offers services for patients ranging from newborn to the elderly as well as hands-on training for resident physicians and physician assistants.

During a tour of the building, Dr. Quincy Scott, director of the Center for Family Medicine in Carbondale, said it’s a dream come true. He said everyone involved loves the facility and they’re very proud of it.


There are multiple opportunities for students to learn in a hands-on approach throughout the building, including simulated patient rooms and special SynDaver models that represent the look and practicality of a real cadaver. 

In the simulated patient rooms, called ‘standardized patient rooms,’ there is a window that allows faculty to train and evaluate students. The trainings are also filmed so that students and faculty can view them.

Unlike in a normal exam room, there are monitors on the wall. Dr. Todd Diemer, director of the physician assistant program, said with the old technology, patients would be queued to hand the student a piece of paper that says what an x-ray has found.

Now, a picture will come up on the screen and students will need to make an evaluation, instead of reading off of a card.

“I think that’s much more realistic and helpful in their trainings,” Diemer said.

Upstairs students can learn from SynDavers. The lab currently has two, one male and one female. The models represent a full body and have complete musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

In addition to those two models, the lab will soon have two new plastinated cadavers. Dr. Todd Pierson, assistant clinical professor, said they’re exactly like ‘The Body’ exhibits.


“Seeing on a real human, you just can’t beat a real human,” Pierson said. “They’ll look pretty similar to the cadavers we use to use but they’re fixed.”

The plastinated models won’t break down or have a smell, and the students won’t have to deal with chemicals like formaldehyde, Pierson said. Like a skeleton model, the models will be fixed so they can be rotated. Some of the organs on the models can also receive ultrasound.

“They’ll be very unique,” Pierson said. “The skull will be opened up and there’s a lot of other special dissections I asked for so that our students can learn.”

A lot of the learning students do is problem based learning and the set-up of the new classrooms reflects this. Diemer said it’s the greatest way to learn. 

“So, they’re learning the way that they’re practicing,” Diemer said. “I think that’s why they’re so ready when they go into their clinicals and into their phase II, because they’re not sitting in a classroom.”

Destiny Petrowich, a phase II PA student, said the caliber of learning is now reflected in the building they learn in. She said once she learned about how the program uses problem based learning, she didn’t want to go anywhere else. SIU Medicine became her number one choice.

“They give an opportunity and you seize it and come out the most amazing PA that you could get with the education,” Petrowich said.

The new facility will help train 19 residents and 40 PA students. Diemer said the program gets about 1,500 applications for PA students a year, but they can only take 40.

“Space is another important part,” Dr. Sohaib Sajjad, assistant chief resident and second year student, said. “We were really congested in our old building and so having space really opens up privacy.”

Another advantage is being able to do family consultations with patients who are being evaluated, something that couldn’t be done in the older building, Dr. Lyndsey Adams, chief resident and third year student, said.

Rex Budde, SIH president and CEO, called it a first class place to learn and said it was amazing to be able to work together to design and build the facility.

“Our key in southern Illinois is working together,” Budde said.

Dr. Jerry Kruse, dean and provost of SIU School of Medicine, said SIH and Memorial Hospital have been the partners of the SIU Carbondale Family Medicine program since 1978. The SIU PA program, now in its 23rd year, joins this partnership.

“This partnership together has assured the training of over 200 family physicians,” Kruse said. “These doctors now make up the heart and soul of primary medical care in this area.”

News Editor Brandi Courtois can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandi_Courtois.

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