From its early days more than a century ago, the foundation of IU School of Medicine has been its duty to prepare physicians.

The first three floors of the Medical Education and Research Building—the broad base of the structure—will be the hub for medical education.

students practice point of care ultrasound in bloomington

Community spaces to gather and grow

One goal inspired the design of the medical education portion of the new building: community.

The space is equipped with the latest technology to facilitate learning, but its dedicated learning communities and on-site support services foster engagement between students, their peers and our faculty.

We hope every physician leaves IU School of Medicine prepared to excel—and with a lasting connection to our mission of preparing healers and transforming health. 

rendering of a common space shows multiple seating options and people working and talking together

Learning communities

Medical school can be a tremendous challenge for even the brightest, most capable students. They need help from peers, faculty and staff. The new building will feature 12 learning communities—smaller areas within the larger building where students can take classes, study, and relax with a small cohort of their peers, with faculty leaders nearby. The idea is to make a big campus feel smaller and provide students with the support they need to overcome hurdles and become the compassionate healers we know they can be.

The atrium

One of the most eye-popping features of the new building will be the three-story atrium at the heart of the structure.

Featuring an abundance of natural light, the space will offer the medical school something it’s been missing—a central space suitable for large communal gatherings or casual meetups.

The atrium will be flanked by classrooms, lecture halls, and the library. Its centrality and easy access from each floor will facilitate its use as a kind of town square where students, faculty and others can come together in a warm, inviting place.

interior rendering of the new building shows a light filled atrium and large staircase

Diverse classroom settings

Medical education demands diverse teaching settings—and this building will feature a variety. A pair of tiered lecture halls, each capable of seating 200, can be combined into an even larger room for special events. In case method classrooms, faculty will speak from a well encircled by students, lending itself to a Socratic form of teaching. Small and medium-sized rooms shrink classes even further. All spaces have video, wireless internet and charging station capabilities.

architect's rendering shows a round classroom in the new building

Case method classrooms

For decades, medical students followed a familiar path: two years of lectures, rotating through clerkships, and moving on to residency. Now, clinical experiences come earlier in medical school, and curricula ask students to apply foundational knowledge sooner. One way is through case examples. In IU's new medical building, students will face each other in circular classrooms and collaborate to solve complex problems, find solutions, and communicate them. Meanwhile, a faculty member can step in and out to help keep the discussion on course. It is one step—and space—in a process that helps turn bright minds into stellar healers.

A faculty member can step back and let a discussion happen. These classrooms will promote a teaching approach of student engagement and be wonderful places for the kinds of discussions where you want to see everyone’s face.

Paul M. Wallach, MD

Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs and Institutional Improvement

Hands-on learning facilities 

Anatomy lab

Technology has become a greater part of medical education, but students still learn the visceral geography of the body and the language of their profession in the anatomy lab. Located on the second floor, the anatomy lab’s 35 stations will seamlessly meld technology into a foundational course. Each student will have an iPad, putting guides on human structures, with hours of instructional videos and live demonstrations just a touch away. Flexible spaces for smaller groups, including one mimicking a surgical theater, will offer ideal settings for trainees and faculty. There will be other practical amenities, such as locker rooms and an inviting office space for students, faculty, and donor families.

Medical students Taylor Smith and Chevy Singh consult each other during a dissection.
students work with a dummy in the clinical skills center

Clinical skills center

Traditionally, physicians have relied on sight, sound, and touch to reach a diagnosis. Steadily, technology bolstered or outright replaced that approach. The clinical skills center will teach medical students to blend the traditional and the modern.

Here, they will learn the art of a physical exam. An open-bed bay will enable simulations that reinforce providing patient care as part of a team. IU School of Medicine previously introduced point-of-care ultrasound, but now there will be dedicated space where students and trainees can master this diagnostic tool. The center will also be home to rooms where future healers gain experience providing telemedicine through a set curriculum. Instructors will watch those sessions and provide constructive feedback.

It also makes it easier for our faculty to oversee smaller classes and provide guided demonstrations. The result: students who are prepared the moment they set foot inside the clinic.

It will allow for extremely creative learning. The space is directly proximate to where our students do the rest of their learning. It’s one floor up, right in the middle of everything, and very convenient. Students can pop out of a lecture hall and go to the clinical skills center to practice what they just learned.

Paul M. Wallach, MD

Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs and Institutional Improvement

Surgical skills center

Surgery is precise work. It demands a steady hand, deft touch, and keen judgment—all while being agile enough to adapt at a moment's notice. But such skills are not intuitive. They are learned.

This vital training will unfold on the third floor of the new medical education building, a space that offers the latest technology, experienced instruction, and a proven curriculum. The spacious facility will cater to surgeons of all levels—from new residents learning sutures to vascular surgeons practicing the latest techniques in opening blocked arteries.

Along with stations for cadaver dissections, the center will be outfitted with the latest virtual reality simulation for minimally invasive and robotic procedures, including the da Vinci Surgical System. The center also has dedicated space for continuing medical education, like a multipurpose room set up as a state-of-the-art operating room that allows surgical teams to run complex scenarios. And just as importantly, the center will be a short walk from the new IU Health hospital, making it easily accessible for residents, fellows and faculty.

Meanwhile, IU School of Medicine will continue to rely on a nationally-respected curriculum, where trainees progress through modules taught by experienced surgeons who also oversee guided practice. And before a resident ever performs a procedure on a real patient, they will have passed a rigorous assessment in the surgical skills center.

residents working in a surgical skills lab
a student using a large wall-size display to visualize anatomy

Innovation library

Located just off the atrium and occupying three floors, the library will be more than just a storehouse of knowledge or study space. It must also help students become critical thinkers and offer the latest tools for learning. Tech features will include virtual reality headsets offering the latest in simulation, a makerspace with 3D printing, and one-button studios where students can record presentations. Faculty will enjoy a third-floor space where they can learn the latest in cutting edge technology for teaching.

Centering diversity, equity, inclusion and justice

Enhancing diversity in medicine begins by reflecting the communities we serve. The school’s Center for Inclusive Excellence will be prominent in the heart of the new medical education and research building. Its work to foster an inclusive environment will be felt by our students from the moment they arrive until they transition to residency. And its collaborators in other divisions will be just footsteps away.