Lincoln Scholars Program

Welcome to LSP

In 2018, SIU School of Medicine, in collaboration with the SIU Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, the Illinois Department of Public Health and others issued a report entitled The State of Rural Health in Illinois: Great Challenges and a Path Forward. In it, the authors noted both the higher prevalence of illness in rural Illinois as well as rural Illinois’s lack of health care resources. Similar trends have been observed throughout the United States. In keeping with its mission, SIU School of Medicine strives to reduce these disparities through educational programming and outreach.

The Lincoln Scholars Program (LSP) is a new Doctor of Medicine track designed to prepare and equip Illinois’s next generation of rural primary care physicians. Based entirely in Carbondale, LSP students will learn alongside an interdisciplinary team of experienced professionals. The curriculum is innovative and accelerated, emphasizing an immersion in the clinical environment.

SIU Medicine patient simulation
Remote video URL
Lincoln Scholars is featured in a segment of WSIU's InFocus program.

Training the next generation of rural physicians

SIU School of Medicine launched the Lincoln Scholars Program in the summer of 2020, a new Doctor of Medicine track to amplify its mission to improve regional health in downstate Illinois. It is specifically designed to train the next generation of generalist, rural physicians.

Currently, our medical students attend one year in Carbondale, and the rest of the curriculum takes place in Springfield. This program is based entirely in Carbondale, with clinical placements in neighboring rural communities.

Clinical experiences begin in the first weeks of the program. The students work with an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals that includes a rural physician throughout their entire training. This allows for a unique longitudinal experience that is rare in medicine today.

The LSP’s collaborative approach to medical education is also novel. A class of eight Lincoln Scholars spend their first year learning and training alongside physician assistant students in Carbondale’s new SIU Medicine building.

Research has demonstrated a link between physicians’ connection to rural areas and their subsequent practice of rural medicine. For that reason, LSP students will be strategically chosen both for their academic potential and for their experience in, and dedication to, rural Illinois.

This connectedness is central to the mission of the Lincoln Scholars Program. Dr. James Daniels designed it to benefit both patients and our physicians-in-training.

“Students will start to form, not only close bonds between themselves and their patients, but also with the communities where they work. This, in many people’s view, is the most rewarding part of practicing medicine.”

LS Program Director Dr. Jennifer Rose says, “We’re allowing them to learn the challenges that are unique to rural medicine, to watch someone role-model handling and overcoming those challenges, and to feel comfortable and inspired to stay in those communities that they’re already drawn to.”

The Lincoln Scholars Program sponsors retreats focusing on self-care, group dynamics and community involvement to equip students with the skills they need to become good members and leaders in rural communities. The LSP leadership team is also exploring future partnerships with students and programs across the SIU System, including social work, psychology, pharmacy and law.

How to apply

  1. Submit an application to SIU School of Medicine Admissions.
  2. If you are placed on the "Accept When Place Available" list, you will receive an invitation to apply for the LSP.
  3. Submit an essay detailing your interest in, and potential for, work as a primary care physician in rural Illinois.


Contact: Office of Student Affairs, Carbondale at 618.453.1531 or the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development, 618.453.3314.

Maia Cain

The Lincoln Scholars Advantage

“There is such a need for physicians in rural areas, especially southern Illinois, and the Lincoln Scholars Program was the perfect opportunity for me to help fill that gap. The accelerated curriculum is another draw ─ it allows us to be in rural clinics and get that patient interaction earlier.”
Maia Cain, Class of 2025

David Farmer

“I am helping to forge a new path for future generations of physicians interested in improving rural health care. The innovative curriculum will prepare me to provide comprehensive care for patients that don’t have ready access.”
David Farmer, Class of 2025