UICOMP Memories …

Dr. Allan Campbell:

(Senior Scholars, Retired UICOMP Faculty)

I have had the honor to serve on the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Medicine since 1973, retiring at the end of 2018 as Clinical Professor of Pathology and Dermatology. The last ten years, I served as Chair of the Department of Dermatology. My older son Robert graduated from the school in 1999 and is Boarded in Med-Peds, practicing in Augusta, GA.

The school continues to develop and provide excellent physicians for the State of Illinois and the world!

Mary Sierra:

(UICOMP Employee, Department of Pediatrics)

I am the daughter of one of your retirees from the UICOMP Library, who has always inspired me. My Mother…Kathleen Reyes Sierra…entered the workforce at the age of 41 years old. Kathleen was the mother of ten (10) and, after five (5) years of pursuing a certificate in the Medical Office Assistant program at Illinois Central College, Mom was ready to allow the last of us to become a “latchkey” kid. Mom was in three (3) golf leagues, then, however, her dream was to have a job which would allow her to pay for the college tuition for her youngest daughter…the 7th grader…Lisa. UICOMP provided that opportunity when in 1978, Mom was hired to work in the UICOMP Library. Mom loved working at UICOMP and taking Library Science classes to improve her status and pay. Mostly she loved taking care of the medical students…as once a Mother…always a Mother. When she retired in 1994, many medical students attended her retirement gathering. I asked one of the medical students, I am truly embarrassed by the snarky-ness, if he “just came for the cookies”, he said: “No, I came because your Mom treated me like I was one of her children.” And, to my Mom, his comment was the best of compliments and one more reason why she loved working at UICOMP. And, Lisa, who graduated with a Speech Pathology Masters Degree from Western IL University, is equally grateful. UICOMP made a difference in both of their lives…and, mine, also.

Jo Dorsch:

(Emeritus Professor Library of the Health Sciences)

I started at the Library of the Health Sciences in 1982. I began in the print world of the Index Medicus, made the step of sending search strategies to NLM via telex, gave health professionals full access to Medline via Grateful Med and eventually PubMed. I remember faculty pleas that I not cancel a favorite print journal to demands that all journals be online! My favorite classes to teach were Grateful Med and EBM. I first taught Grateful Med to health professionals in rural hospitals with dial-up lines. Often lacking a library, Grateful Med opened up a world of information for informed decision making. An EBM course, developed by library and medical faculty in 1989, led the way in medical education. The course was documented in the literature and emulated by others. It is still being taught as an online course. I watched the library transform into an active learning center as we rid shelves of journals and built study and collaboration spaces. When I retired in 2015 to join family in Seattle the library was a different space than it was in 1982, but what hadn’t changed was the heart of the library — a staff dedicated to excellent service and providing students and faculty the best information for their learning and practice needs. I am grateful for my years at UICOMP and the opportunity I had to serve students and faculty in providing informed healthcare to our community. Congratulations to UICOMP on its 50th anniversary and to all those who continue to contribute to its excellence!

Jim Burwitz:

(Former Employee)

One of my favorite memories as a UICOMP employee was seeing Dr. Sara Rusch, Regional Dean, picking weeds on the campus grounds. I suggested to her that maybe we call our facilities team to handle this task, and she said she was happy to do it. I’ve always been impressed by that and thought it spoke to her unwavering level of dedication!

Dr. Anita Vanka:

(Class of 2005 – Hospitalist and Assistant Professor – Boston, MA)

Hi, my name is Anita Vanka and I’m a proud graduate of UICOMP, Class of 2005! I am a practicing academic hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA and spend approximately 50% of time in educational leadership roles at Harvard Medical School. I credit my passion for education, enthusiasm for working with students & trainees, and love for caring for hospitalized patients to the three amazing physician mentors & role models I had the privilege of meeting and learning from at UICOMP – Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer, Dr. John Rogers, and Dr. Lannie Cation. All three of them embodied the ideal characteristics a student or trainee looks for in a mentor/role model – dedication and patience for their learners , exemplary teaching and leadership skills, and compassionate bedside care of their patients. Drs. Aiyer, Rogers, and Cation each inspired me to not only pursue a career path similar to them as a hospitalist and educational leader, but inspire me each day to bring forth the qualities they showed me to my own students and trainees. I hope to one day be able to pay forward what they each had invested me. Thank you to all those at UICOMP for the exceptional education and incredibly rich and safe learning environment you provided me and my peers to begin our journey in medicine!! I am so very thankful to my time at
UICOMP and to all who invested in me.

Dr. Mohamad Al-Rahawan:

(Pediatrics Professor – Lubbock, TX)

UICOMP was my first post after finishing my residency and fellowship training. Even though I attended UICOMP as a faculty not as a learner, UICOMP taught me plenty. My favorite mentor was Dr. Kay Saving and my favorite boss was Dr. Pedro de Alarcon. However, my most cherished memories will always be the time I spent teaching learners at all levels. Go UICOMP, May the next 50 years bring you more success and pride.

Max Ellithorpe:

(UICOMP Student, Class of 2023)

I think a number of things make UICOMP special. Some examples include:

  • the fact that the Dean and Associate/Assistant Deans manage to greet me in the hallways by name and ask how my block is going, despite the fact that they have to balance a huge workload of administrative duties, teaching, and patient care.
  • the fact that the campus celebrates the holidays as a family, instead of only having separate events for faculty, staff, and students
  • the fact that Dr. Yong, a skilled pathologist and military veteran, can turn what would otherwise be a very boring lecture into an engaging and thrilling game of Codewords
  • the fact that many very senior members of the faculty wouldn’t think twice about welcoming an M1 onto their service for a morning of shadowing
Caterpillar hats

Dr. Marshall Garrick:

(Class of 1975 — Psychiatrist, Champaign, IL)

Funny that 44 years after graduating and many rich experiences both clinically and didactically in medical school, the events that are the most memorable relate to the softball team. The class of ’75 softball team bonded together and also felt a collegiality with the community teams from local companies. One memorable experience was during a game when I was at bat, bases loaded, and a tie score. The med school Dean advised the manager to pull me for a pinch hitter. The manager didn’t and on 2 strikes I swung late and hit a line ball over first base for a double, scoring 2 runners. That was great — good memory.

A second memory was in 1972 when Dean Grove was recruiting for the Peoria MS-2 class targeted to be 30 students since we only had 11 in Chicago in the MS-1 class expressing preference for Peoria. At a meeting with Dean Grove and the MS-1 class, I suggested renting a bus to let students visit. I knew Peoria was wonderful and if students saw it, some more would express preference for the site. I, myself, as a Chicagoan, didn’t know much about Peoria until I had visited. The targeted number of 30 for the MS-2 Class was ultimately voluntarily met.

A third memory is the class graduation held with the Chicago and Rockford graduates at McCormick Place. At the close, the Peoria grads pulled their graduation mortar boards off and put on Caterpillar Company yellow caps — that was cool.

Dr. Calvin Mein

(Class of 1975 — Retinal Specialist, San Antonio, TX)

I began medical school at the U. of Illinois in 1971 in Chicago. Half way through my first year, we were told of the new Peoria School of Medicine. My class mate and good friend Jerry McShane was from Peoria. After much deliberation, we decided to take a chance on the new school. What a great decision. My experience with the first full class of 1975 was wonderful. Dr Don Rager and Dr Don McRaven and Dr Stan Bugeski were some of my heroes I could name many more. I hope we get to have the 50th reunion, celebration this year!

Dr. Himangi Kaushal:

(Former Resident and Faculty Member – Miami, FL)

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Internal Medicine Residency Program was my first introduction to the practice of medicine in the US. I completed my IM residency and worked as faculty in the same department. As a resident, I could not have asked for a better training program- it gave me all the skills I needed to succeed in my career as a physician and an educator and so much more. I will forever be grateful for the many inspirational mentors the program provided, several of whom I am still in touch with. Great clinical training, opportunities for growth as junior faculty, and unconditional support from my attendings and senior faculty are just some of the things that come to mind when I think back to my time at UICOMP – but one of the most valuable things for me was the opportunity to work with exceptional female leaders which has shaped my own path in medicine. So, thank you UICOMP, and Congratulations on your 50th!

Dr. Roger Geiss:

(Senior Scholars, Retired UICOMP Faculty)

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria is special for a number of reasons, foremost among which are its students. After having been a faculty member at three other medical schools prior to my arrival at UICOMP, I found the students in Peoria to be, on the whole, the most enjoyable with whom I have been associated. The combination of maturity, industriousness, depth and breadth of interests, and mutual respect exhibited by these fine young people have played a major role in making the my final professional years, as well the years since my retirement, the finest of my life as a physician.

Dr. Manajyoti Yadav:

(Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UICOMP)

There is a huge transition when a resident graduates and becomes a faculty member and a teacher. The transition comes with new roles and responsibility which are all very exciting. But one such opportunity just stands out in my memory when my Sub I student asked me for a letter of recommendation, my first such request ever. I had been working with UICOMP for 3 months and enjoying the role as a teacher but I suddenly felt that my responsibilities just graduate to the next level. After years of asking for letters for myself suddenly the roles had reversed. Now I was the one expected to help the next generation of student pursuit their dreams. It was a special feeling! Working with UICOMP over past 7 years has been a lot of fun with plenty of similar opportunities full of joy.

Dr. Alfonse Masi:

(Professor Emeritus)

UICOMP is special to me because I have spent almost half of my life as a tenured professor of medicine at this quality medical school. I accepted the appointment of Head of Medicine in 1978, because it offered a special opportunity to integrate clinical teaching and epidemiologic research in the musculoskeletal disorders, after an 11-year tenure as Professor and Director of the Connective Tissue Disease Division at University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences. In fact, the increased opportunity to interact with community internists and rheumatologists enriched my teaching and research in the rheumatic diseases.

I was extremely fortunate to be joined by Dr. Muhammad Yunus in 1978 as a second year rheumatology fellow. He brought his unique passion for study of fibromyalgia syndrome and he was supported in his international leadership in this field until his retirement as professor. Dr. Jean C. Aldag was my other long-time colleague who contributed essentially to many of my and Dr. Yunus’ research, being replaced more recently by Dr. Jinma Ren.

A great number of students participated in research, based upon their own James Scholar projects or co-authorship in my research, who can only be named in part. They include Dr. Azeem Rehman and M3 Laura Jorgenson, who co-authored a number of papers. Drs. Chad Evans and Michael Ryan performed equally excellently as James Scholars, but their detailed research is still unpublished in my file. The field of lumbar resting muscle tonus was developed with Dr. Brian Andonian and Bradley University colleague, Dr. Kalyani Nair.

Each one of these outstanding students and colleagues has advanced with distinction in their own careers, and have helped me enormously in my research career.

Dr. Brian Allen:

(Class of 1990 — Surgeon, New London, NC)

30 Years [since graduation]!! Hot damn. Feels pretty good. Some reflections:

  • Dr. Alvin Watne teaching that “General Surgeons are blue-collar docs”. In my entire general surgery career, I never forgot that, and it was repeatedly taught to me by experience. We are the Grunts.
  • Dr. Erich Loewy (“Zees ees Kritikal!”) passing out reprints of the lecture, “What is a Clinician and What Does He Do?” -Tumulty, 1970. This should be required reading for any aspiring doctor. The penultimate paragraph, “This, as I see it…” is my medical credo. Loewy’s Ethics class was superb.
  • Playing frisbee on the lawn! What a great stress-reliever. We were pretty dang good at it, too.

Biggest Medical School in the country, folks (at the time). It was a great education, and I’m proud of my alma mater.

Dr. Ed Wyne:

(Class of 1973 – Retired Physician – Alpine, UT)

My wife and I talked it over and chose to become part of the first class of the Peoria School of Medicine, doing my two years of clerkship there. I anticipated having practicing docs instruct me in a real-world environment, plus it would be cheaper than living in Chicago. I learned about medicine,
its knowledge, skills and conversations. Time was spent observing, questioning and then going to the library to learn more (no electronic resources then!). I had time to talk with patients, learn their story and see the results of therapy. Tying knots was not my expertise so I quickly shifted to internal medicine. Don Rager became my primary mentor with Drs Solovy and Herr and others providing expertise. Throughout my years of practice I have been grateful for the question: “what are the alternative diagnoses?” A 1964 song, “Eve of Destruction”, would seem to fit well now. But I reassure you that great joy is also available. As you carefully treat each patient you will not save each one, but you will use your skill and knowledge to care for each. That service will bring you joy.

Dr. Neha Shah Saraiya:

(Class of 2001 – Pediatrician, Skillman, NJ)

Lucky to do my medical school training in Peoria – also my hometown..So many stellar faculty teachers and mentors — a few that come to mind Dr. Bosch pathology M2/Dr.Lasley who I had the pleasure to do research with / Dr. Rush /Dr.Aiyer and Dr.Graumlich who I also did research with . I chose a career in pediatrics – and enjoyed all my mentors and faculty here / especially Dr. Wise and Dr. Sauder/ Dr. Chatrath and Dr. Lapke/Dr. Rick Pearl/all the Peds cardiologists Drs.Albers/ Dr.Bash-and my father Dr.J.J.Shah My most memorable moment being hooded at graduation by my father in May 2001… I feel lucky to have earned my medical degree from UICOMP.