PEORIA - University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria welcomes first year medical students into classrooms - a historic moment in the school's history.
Since UICOMP opened in 1970, only second year students could enroll at the Peoria-based medical school. Students would study in Urbana Champaign during his or her incoming semesters. Now aspiring doctors will be able to start and finish their academic careers in Peoria.
On Monday, more than 50 first year students and nearly 70 second year students began their introductory classes for the semester. Sara Rusch, regional dean of UICOMP, says this class marks an historic step for the university and for the medical community in Peoria.
"One of the things we need to have in the healthcare economy that Peoria enjoys is having enough physicians to deliver that care," said Rusch. "Not just in Peoria but in all of our surrounding communities. So by training physicians here, the College of Medicine has a huge impact."
Rusch believes the ability to study locally for the entire four year program encourages students to engage in the community long-term and will strengthen the medical community -- one of the strongest industries in the Peoria area.
"Healthcare overall is probably the largest employer in the Peoria area," she said. "So it's critically important to our economy but also to the health of our citizens."
The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council estimates the wave of new students will generate roughly $2.6 million annually for the Peoria area and will add nearly 30 jobs to the local economy. Already, UICOMP spent $3 million on facilities upgrades and expansions, including a new anatomy lab.
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