A historic moment at the University of Illinois College of Medicine - Rockford on Monday as first-year students step onto campus for the first time in the school's history.
"These will be a trying four years, so its nice that Rockford is welcoming to us," said first-year medical student Angelica Ukaigwe.
In the past, medical students completed their first year in Urbana-Champaign.
Now, they can start and finish their medical education in Rockford.
Being able to stay in one place for four years, I think we'll be a very big improvement, and I think it will be a better education, as well," said second-year medical student Adam Bernardi.
But it's not just the students reaping the benefits, administrators say the new four-year program will impact the Rockford community, too.
When you have medical students training at your hospitals, it makes it a much more appealing place for new physicians to come because they want to be a part of an academic medical health center," said Regional Dean Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green.
Administrators say the new students will add $2.2 million dollars to the regional economy each year.
Back in 2015, the school says the UIC Health Sciences Campus in Rockford contributed more than $58 million to the local economy.
"As Swedes and OSF and Mercy and Crusader and Rosecrance expand, there's going to be new opportunities for our students for training," said Stagnaro-Green.
"Something that a lot of students want is to explore different specialties so now that Rockford can present that as an option, it's really enticing to be here," said first-year medical student Tanya Magana.
And the college says the hope is those options keep these up and coming physicians here in our area, who can continue adding to the city's growth.
The medical school is also welcoming it's largest class ever with nearly 65 second-year medical students enrolled this year.