Junior Achievement | Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame

Sara Rusch, M.D.

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Regional Dean
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

Sara L. Rusch was appointed Regional Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria in January 2008, becoming the college’s seventh regional dean since it was established in 1970.

Before becoming regional dean, Dr. Rusch spent her 30-year career as a general internist caring for patients and teaching medical students and residents as well as filling various leadership roles.

Dr. Rusch practiced general internal medicine in a private practice group from 1981-2001 and as a hospitalist from 2001-2008. She served as the Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) from 1995-2008, and held the same position for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center from 1993-2008. She also was the residency program director for the Department of Internal Medicine from 1995-1999 and from 2005-2006.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 with a BA degree in Molecular Biology and received her medical degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1978.

Since becoming Regional Dean, Dr Rusch has led multiple efforts to improve UICOMP. This includes facility improvements, advancing simulation training, expanding research, and building the graduate medical education programs. She oversaw the $13 million expansion of the Cancer Research Center, construction of small-group active learning spaces to advance medical student education, and transformation of the Donald E. Rager, MD Clinical Skill Laboratory. Under her leadership, UICOMP in partnership with OSF HealthCare, helped in the development, construction and opening of the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, a state-of-the-art virtual hospital and medical simulation facility.

Research and educational activities also have grown, including establishment of the Center for Outcomes Research, a residency program in psychiatry with UnityPoint Health – Methodist, fellowship training programs in cardiovascular disease and gastroenterology, and formal accreditation of a fellowship program in vascular neurology, or stroke.

Dr. Rusch served as Governor for the downstate chapter of the largest medical specialty organization in the U.S. – the American College of Physicians – from 2005-2009. In April of 2010, Dr. Rusch was elected to ACP Mastership. She also has been recognized as an educator and mentor of young physicians, an academic leader and a skilled clinician, receiving the Athena Award from the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce in 2011, UIC Woman of the Year in 2011 and Mother M. Frances Krasse Healthcare Professions Leader award from the YWCA in 2012.

Dr. Rusch is married to Dr. Thomas Cusack, Professor of Radiology at UICOMP. She is mother to seven children and grandmother to six.

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