Dragonfly411

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After searching on SDN and other websites and talking to some current UIC students, I've received a wide range of opinions concerning the UIC med school. Some people say they hate it, but others like it. Some say the first two years are "hell," while others say they aren't too bad as long as you figure out the best way for you to study. Some think UIC is outstanding because students receive great clinical exposure before rotations begin, while students rave about the same thing about their respective schools. Some say that plenty of people are willing to help you out at UIC, while other students say that the administration and student affairs don't care about you and essentially, no one will "hold your hand" at UIC.

Because these opinions seem overgeneralized to me and conflict with each other, they aren't quite helping me decide which medical school to attend. Thus, could those who are currently UIC med students be specific about their experiences? If you think the administration is poor, can you cite a specific example or experience that will support that statement? Why exactly do you think the first two years are "hell"? Is it because the professors are poor teachers, or is it because of the massive amount of information that you must memorize? Or maybe why *aren't* the first two years "hell," and what did you do to stay sane?

It really helps when people speak directly from their own experiences instead of stating something out of hearsay, so if anyone has the time to talk about the positives and negatives about UIC by using your experiences as support/evidence, I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance for your input!
 

chitown82

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Dragonfly - thanks for starting this thread. I'd be very interested in hearing some current students' responses. If you go to UIC, please share...
 

MeowMix

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I'm sure you will get the same range of opinions at almost any school, especially an underfunded state school (which most are, these days). You certainly would at mine.

The reason is that people have a wide range of experiences at med school, depending on their background, response to stress, how they study best, what they expect from the university, their support system outside school, social life, personality, what they are looking for in their education, etc. etc.

You need to think about what is most important to you, and whether you will be able to do those things at UIC. Do you want a certain living environment, climate, etc.? Are finances an issue? Is the curriculum traditional or PBL, and which of those suits you best? Who specifically assists students having academic difficulties (yes, it might be you), and what is their background (i.e. do they have significant training and experience in working specifically with med students, or are they another overworked administrator with good social skills). What is your support system outside med school? What about facilities for things outside school that are important to you (e.g. gym)? How are you going to get to school - is transportation an issue? Are you single and looking for other single people outside school, or do you have a family and will need a good environment for them? Your happiness at school will be determined by a lot of these issues. List them, rank them in order of priority, rank how well each school does in meeting these needs, see which one does best. Read a lot of posts on the allo forum and see what people complain about, when they complain. That gives you a big clue to satisfaction at any school, because the problems are similar everywhere.

Early clinical experience with a wide range of patients (not the lameass "longitudinal" experience with 1 or 2 people), a good range of clinical rotation opportunities - these were very important to me, but they might not be to you.
 

xjohns1

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i'm currently a fourth-year med student at uic (the chicago campus). i think that if you want to save some money and are very self-motivated, proactive and have a thick skin, uic is a decent place. my basis of comparison for student experience is undergraduate years at the university of chicago and talking to many other students at other med schools.

first, uic, not just the med school but the entire university, is a dysfunctional institution. it acts and feels like the cold, inefficient, authoritarian state institution that it is. at uic the attitude is, "yeah, i'll help you, but you'll have to show up to the office, in person, between 8:45 and 3:00. don't come during lunch because the entire office shuts down and even if it didn't there's only one person who could possibly help you with your basic problem. when you get here, you'll wait in line, and don't think i'm going to be friendly or hurry to get to you because i get paid no matter what." my experience at the u of c was entirely different. they actually were proud of their students, happy to help them succeed by helpfully taking care of the administrative tasks that are distractions from our real purpose of studying. med student support at uic is somewhat better. student affairs support increases in its quality and responsiveness as you become a 3rd and especially 4th year.

first and second year education is extremely variable even at the most famous schools. i've heard many, many complaints about 1st and 2nd years from students at harvard, u of chicago, etc. at uic, 1st year is very difficult. it's not only a unbelievably vast amount of material, but it's more poorly taught and organized than 2nd year. if you are a lecture-based learner, you will have a hard time with 1st and 2nd year because the lectures are very hit-or-miss, mostly miss. i am a text book person and almost never went to class and instead spent the day at the library reading.

third year is a very busy year. you will take call with every rotation, even family medicine at some sites. however, we have enough hopitals to choose from (several excellent community hospitals, a university hospital, and a v.a.) that you really can tailor your third year toward your interests. you will also be able to see excellent pathology and diverse pt population. but, it takes lots of initiative to talk to upperclassmen to find out what their experiences were like because in student affairs' eyes, all the sites and rotations push students through the med school machine equally well. there are many very good faculty who teach well and care about students and patients. if you engage the residents and fellows, my experience is that they are helpful and willing to teach. the nurses at the v.a. and (especially) uic are horrible. although there are exceptions, many are lazy, unhelpful, and even downright mean. the same goes for the clerks. so if you need a warm fuzzy feeling on the wards, uic is not the place to get it.

as a fourth year, looking back, i worked very hard through all my time at uic. i did well on my boards, and interviewed at every anesthesia residency program i applied to except for one. i applied to many of the top 5-10 depts in the country. we recently had a new med school dean appointed who is an alumnus of the school and who has recognized the need to become more student-friendly and supportive. i think he will do good things. uic medicine is on the upswing. we have a new outpt center that is beautiful and a vast new research building that will be opening soon and will boost the research enterprise by a lot. we have attracted many new clinical faculty and dept heads recently and many clinical depts are becoming stronger (though there are exceptions). uic has an excellent regional reputation and we match very nicely. however, if you have the chance to go to a place with more of a national rep (u of c and northwestern are the only 2 of the 5 or 6 med schools in the chicago area), it will help you in applying to top residency programs even if you have slightly lower boards than someone from a lesser-known school.

i hope that was helpful. let me know if there's something else you'd like to know.