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Leahy Enjoying Hands-On SBL Experience

December 16, 2022 3:14 p.m.

  • Sarah Bush Lincoln, UICOMP, RSPP

    Pictured are RSPP Director James Barnett, MD, and Catharine Leahy.

Sarah Bush Lincoln’s record of offering hands-on medical experience to college students continues to shine, and one student enjoying her time with SBL currently is Catharine Leahy.

Catharine is a student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, and as part of the Rural Student Physician Program (RSPP), she is learning through hands-on work at SBL.

Leahy has already learned a great deal with SBL, and she is excited to continue to grow her medical knowledge here through April. “Everyone has been wonderful,” she said. “They’ve been really lovely and welcoming, it’s been really fun.”

The RSPP program gives students a six-month period of community-based clinical experience. It not only gives them experience and insight into the medical field, but it is specifically designed to teach them about healthcare in a rural setting.

So far, Catharine has done rounds in General Surgery, OB-GYN, Psychiatry and Family Medicine, among others. The time spent with SBL is valuable for her growth and future, Catharine said. “I have a good variety, in a given week, of different patients and different problems, so it’s really good clinical exposure,” she said.

As with any profession, getting hands-on experience is important to expound upon what you learn from textbooks.

For Catharine, using what she learned in classes and applying it to real situations is great, but she has also learned a lot from talking with preceptors and caring for patients.

James Barnett, MD, and the RSPP director, said its critical for his students to get the in-person experience. “There’s something more than just academics with education,” he said.

With the rural focus of the program, Catharine has already noticed a few things that make rural healthcare unique.

One clear example for Catharine came during her time with the SBL Toledo Clinic. Catharine said the small towns in the area are such tight-knit communities, and many times a patient walks in and the staff knows them personally.


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