The Oceania University of Medicine MD curriculum is comprised of two phases: preclinical and clinical. The curriculum takes students from the basic sciences and the development of clinical reasoning through to patient care in a clinical setting. The preclinical phase is the distance-learning portion of the program. Students may continue working during the online preclinical phase (usually two-and-a-half years), a feature that sets the OUM MD program apart from a traditional medical school. This flexibility makes OUM a good medical school option for nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals who wish to become doctors. Although the distance learning feature is attractive to working professionals, OUM medical students should plan to commit 40-50 hours per week for research, study, class attendance, and meetings with one's adviser and mentor. It is recommended that students intending to practice in the United States enroll in the Basic Science Track for extensive exposure to the science principles that are essential to the practice of medicine and tested in USMLE Step 1. The preclinical phase spans 109 weeks and begins with nine four-week basic science blocks, followed by nine system-based modules, and three modules focused on trends and topics in medicine, research methodology, and clinical skills. The clinical clerkships consist of 72 weeks of core rotations and electives including one rotation in either Independent Samoa or American Samoa. Clinical modules require a full-time commitment. Students who wish to complete rotations in the United States must pass USMLE Step 1 before begining the clerkships.
It is recommended that students who intend to practice in the United States and must pass USMLE Step 1, enroll in the Basic Science Track. Students in this track begin their preclinical phase with nine four-week basic science blocks (e-Foundation 100-Series), followed by nine system-based modules, and three modules focused on trends in medicine, research methodology, and clinical skills. An alternative to the e-ITM and e-Foundation 200-series, this track offers a more robust exploration of the basic sciences covered in USMLE Step 1, .
Each basic science block lasts four weeks and covers the following science principles: biochemistry; molecular biology and medical genetics; physiology; anatomy, neuroanatomy, and embryology; microanatomy and cell biology; pharmacology; microbiology; immunology; and pathology. This portion of the curriculum explores the sciences that are the buidling blocks of the system-based modules and also an integral part of the requisite USMLE Step 1.
The cornerstone of modern medical education, Problem-Based Learning (PBL), is evident throughout the OUM curriculum. Ten system-based modules, each one lasting six weeks, utilize PBL case studies to cover a diverse range of pathologies. Each PBL case begins with a virtual patient presentation (or scenario). Along with a detailed case presentation, the student receives a live lecture from an instructor in OUM's virtual classroom, participates in another lecture which covers key concepts/tasks, and engages in directed independent study.
All students in the MD program are required to complete an original research project. The research component is a natural extension of OUM's vision to encourage life-long learning and to train physicians who will appreciate and practice evidence-based medicine. The Topics in Medical Research module is a structured, faculty-supervised endeavor that may be taken during the preclinical or clinical modules. To prepare students for the clinical phase, a Skills Course with online and onsite components exposes students to history taking and physcial examination skills.
During the 72 weeks of clinical clerkships/rotations, students acquire and maintain skills needed to provide patient care by focusing on the therapeutic nature of the patient-doctor relationship and learning to systematically elicit and interpret clinical symptoms by sensitively interviewing and examining patients. During most rotations, OUM students participate alongside students from other medical schools and must abide by the requirements of the host facility. Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient settings. The time spent on each will differ from clerkship to clerkship and from one hospital to another, but these differences are not significant in terms of enabling students to meet the learning objectives.
Students may decide to complete clinical training either at OUM's home in the South Pacific (in Samoa or American Samoa), where all core and many elective rotations may be available and where at least one four-week clinical rotation must be completed. OUM has arrangements for rotations with several regional teaching hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Some students have managed to arrange clinical rotations close to home, though this arrangement is not always possible and entails considerable coordination between the student, the University, and the host facility.
During core rotations (Internal Medicine, Surgery, Community Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry) students are assigned to a clinical supervisor at the clerkship site to complete rotations. Along with the hands-on training, students are required to view daily lectures, complete reading assignments, and pass a corresponding OUM-created examination upon completion of each core clerkship. Students may begin elective rotations, which may expand further study into core subjects or introduce students to new areas, (typically in four-week increments) after completion of the core rotations.
Generally, OUM only enters into agreements with teaching hospitals accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) which are also referred to as “green book” hospitals. Medical centers without the official infrastructure in place to enroll, evaluate, and record student rotations may not be able to verify training should a licensing body contact them in the future. Some US states will not license physicians who did not train in accredited teaching hospitals. Students planning to complete clinical rotations at a US teaching hospital must pass the USMLE Step 1.
All of the University's MD students are required to complete at least one four-week clinical rotation at OUM's South Pacific home, and clinical clerkships are available in both Independent Samoa and the US territory of American Samoa.
Graduation from OUM requires satisfactory completion of the following milestones:
Attending a properly-listed and accredited medical school, obtaining necessary certification(s) (specifically the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates [ECFMG] certification in the US), and completing proper post-graduate training are the basic licensing requirements for applying to practice medicine in most countries and most US states and Canadian provinces. OUM is accredited by the internationally-recognized Philippines Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), recognized by the ECFMG, and listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools, a global compendium of medical educational institutions.