Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the annual start dates for the program?

Incoming MD students begin the program with the Introduction to Medicine module (e-ITM). The incoming class for 2014 is full. In 2015, MD students may start the program during one of two e-ITM offerings: 19 January - 5 June (Application Deadline is 15 October 2014 and Orientation is 10 January) or 27 July - 11 December  (Application Deadline is 15 April 2015 and Orientation is 11 July).



2. How does the program work?

The program is a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, which is typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years. Because the OUM program is flexible, students may take longer if they need extended time for work or family matters, but a minimum of 24 weeks of instruction must be completed each year.

The program begins with the Introduction to Medicine course, followed by 10 weeks of e-Foundation Sciences (200-series) and 10 six-week preclinical study modules. Introduction to Medicine (e-ITM) is an intensive 20-week online course which highlights the basic sciences. For students needing extra exposure to the basic sciences, OUM offers 10 four-week modules concentrating on each basic science discipline. All preclinical modules are taught utilising virtual classroom technologies that enable students to complete pre-clinical study from their own communities. Preclinical modules are followed by 72 weeks of clinical training learning hands-on patient care in a teaching hospital, identical to traditional medical school settings.

Preclinical Studies

Designed and supervised by leading American and Australian medical professors, instruction is presented through problem-based case studies - even during preclinical courses - rather than lengthy lectures about physiology or biochemistry in a full auditorium with little chance for interaction.

Many medical schools have adapted their curricula to problem-based learning. This method uses a detailed patient scenario to present medical issues and problems that students work through to diagnose and treat, while at the same time, learning about the basic medical sciences that are pertinent to the disease or medical condition. For example, an asthma case would take students through diagnosis and treatment, then the physiology of respiration, the chemistry of how various treatments interact with the body, the anatomy of the lungs, and such subjects.

Students utilise weekly cases and "meet" regularly with online instructors and classmates for lectures and discussion, to complete assignments, and work through key learning objectives. Part-time students independently research assignments, typically spending 40 hours or more per week, covering required case readings, preparing for/participating in small group discussions and virtual classroom sessions, and making summarised notes for exam preparation. Individual, real-time chat sessions may be arranged, as needed, with your instructor. Additionally, some students form study groups, both online and in-person when geographically feasible. OUM makes time available in its virtual classrooms for students to meet and interact.

Each student meets with an academic advisor on a weekly basis to monitor and assess student performance. The advisor ensures that the student understands the concepts in the learning material and offers advice such as extra reading assignments to enhance student performance.

A quiz is taken at the end of each weekly case, and a summative examination is given at the end of each module.

When a student begins the system-based modules, they are also required to meet face-to-face with a physician mentor in their community, for a minimum of one hour each week. The mentor does not teach but acts as a coach and role model, answering clinical questions and discussing non-academic issues associated with the practice of medicine, such as professionalism, motivation, and compassion. Each student is responsible for the selection of his/her own mentor, supported by OUM materials prepared for presentation to prospects. The Dean approves each prospective mentor.

Clinical Clerkships

Halfway through the program, upon passing the Final Pre-Clinical Examination, clinical rotations are arranged by the student, with assistance from OUM staff and taken at teaching hospitals, as they are in traditional medical schools. During core rotations, students are assigned to the clinical supervisor at the teaching facility to complete clerkship training. Together with the hands-on work, students complete PBL cases, directed learning activities, listen to lectures, and sit for an examination for each core clerkship. Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient hospital settings.

To be consistent with requirements for the MD degree in Australia and other countries, all non-US students in the MD program will be required to publish a research paper in Medical Student International, the student research journal started by OUM faculty, or a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation.  The research project may be taken as a preclinical module or as an elective clinical module.

The OUM curriculum is a demanding program, suited only to those who are self-motivated and disciplined to independently meet program requirements and deadlines.



3. May I continue my career while taking the OUM course?

Yes, during the first half of the curriculum, but not during the clinical rotations. The opportunity for students to work a full schedule during the pre-clinical phase, is one feature that sets OUM apart from a traditional medical school setting. For students who continue working during pre-clinical terms, a minimum commitment of approximately 40-50 hours per week is required for research, study, class attendance, and meetings with one’s advisor and mentor. During these pre-clinical terms, students typically revise and reduce their work schedules to prepare for the last two years of clinical clerkship training. Once the clinical clerkships begin, the schedule of an OUM student is the same as that of any medical student -- subject to the uncertainties of hospital and physician scheduling -- and requiring 24/7 availability in order to complete clinical rotations and maximize the experience.



4. How long does it take to complete the MD program?

OUM was created to help individuals pursue their dream of becoming a physician without having to quit their jobs or leave family and friends for extended periods of time.  The program is a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, which is typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years. Because the OUM program is flexible, students may take longer if they need extended time for work or family matters, but a minimum of 24 weeks of instruction must be completed each year.



5. How do the clinical rotations work? Can I get one near my home?

Students have to complete clinical rotations at a regionally accredited  teaching hospital, locally, interstate or internationally. All rotations are subject to availability. The best source of clinical rotations remains the network of hospitals and clinics at which OUM students and faculty have secured positions over the years.

At the teaching hospital, students should work side-by-side with students from other medical schools on clinical activities established by the host hospital. During this portion of the curriculum, OUM will also provide students with case assignments and other relevant curriculum materials that support and enhance the clinical rotation. OUM cannot guarantee that a student will find clinical rotations near his/her home, but students have always managed to secure rotations in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, India, and Nepal.



6. How does the local mentor work? Do you find the mentor for me?

Your local physician mentor is your guide to the practice of medicine. You will meet with him or her for  a minimum of one hour each week, for six weeks each term, during the system-based modules to discuss your studies and other medical practice issues. You may even have an opportunity to tag along on rounds or to shadow the doctor as he or she sees patients, dependent upon patient approval. You are responsible for finding a mentor in your community and securing approval from OUM. Materials are provided for you to approach prospective mentors. It is recommended that you secure your mentor before beginning the Introduction to Medicine module, so that he or she is ready upon your completion. Students may not begin the system-based modules without an approved mentor. OUM provides an honorarium and guidelines for the mentor relationship.



7. What is the Introduction to Medicine course like?

Introduction to Medicine, or e-ITM, is the first module taken in the MD program and begins the preclinical phase of study. Over 20 weeks, in two-week blocks, the module’s focus is to provide a solid background and understanding of the basic sciences, introducing students to the language and major concepts of each discipline utilising the Collaborate virtual classroom.

The e-ITM begins with a required orientation day held either online or onsite in Sydney or Melbourne. The orientation will present strategies for success in medical school, an introduction to required IT modalities, and a “meet and greet” forum for students, faculty, administrators, and academic advisors.

Each basic science block is taught live Tuesday-Saturday mornings for two hours and recorded for viewing at a more convenient time. At the end of each two-week block, a final examination is administered. Upon completing the e-ITM, students take two five-week 200-series e-Foundation Sciences modules, which include more extensive exposure to the basic sciences. Students who do not progress successfully through the 200-series e-Foundation Sciences with a 60 per cent or higher score, are not ready to begin their system-based modules right away. These students will be recommended to do additional study on their deficient subjects in e-Foundation Sciences (e-Foundation 100 Series), held before the student may progress to the system-based modules. More extensively covering the same basic science disciplines taught during the e-ITM, e-Foundation Science 100-series modules are four weeks in duration and also delivered via Collaborate on a weekday schedule and are recorded for more convenient viewing. There are additional tuition fees for the e-Foundation 100 series.



8. How are gross anatomy and other lab courses taught on-line?

Many medical schools are moving away from cadaver laboratory work toward high-quality electronic teaching material. Many medical school accrediting bodies now acknowledge that laboratory exercises may be "real or simulated." There are several computer models today that accurately simulate the body, often with better views than you would see in an anatomy class. The US National Institutes of Health developed many of the most popular and accurate models that are used in online instruction.

In addition to gross anatomy, a good portion of laboratory work involves acquiring skills to collect and analyse raw data from graphs, blood work, and other pathological results. To develop these skills, OUM students receive simulated lab assignments during the course of each pre-clinical module that are completed and posted for online discussion with the instructor and classmates. While most assignments test physiological theory, others explore interpretation of clinical concepts in order to build and strengthen diagnostic skills.



9. Can I start an internship after graduating?

Yes, OUM currently has several alumni in Australian post-graduate training programs. The Australian Medical Council (AMC) administers national examinations for overseas-trained physicians who want to practice in the country. OUM graduates are eligible to take the AMC exams because the school is listed in both the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Directory of Medical Schools and the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) published by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research. Upon finishing their studies, OUM graduates wishing to practice medicine in Australia, must contact the AMC and register to sit its two-part examination. After successful completion of the AMC examinations, a one-year supervised internship program must also be completed before being allowed to apply for state registration and a residency-training program. For more information, visit the AMC website www.amc.org.au.

OUM graduates planning to practice medicine in New Zealand, are eligible to sit for the NZREX. Prior to taking the NZREX, OUM graduates must have also passed the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) Step 1 and Step 2, or the AMC part 1 exam, or the UK’s Professional Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) Part 1 exam, within the previous five years. Students and prospective students hoping to practice there upon graduation, should contact the Medical Council of New Zealand (www.mcnz.org.nz) about specific requirements.



10. Can I practise in my state?

Yes, depending on the requirements of individual country, state or territory medical boards. All prospective students are strongly advised to contact the medical board in the location where they intend to practice upon graduation to learn the necessary licensing requirements. Since OUM is listed in both the WHO directory and IMED publication, many medical boards will allow our students to take the necessary examinations administered by the Australian Medical Council or the Medical Council of New Zealand. Please note, for registration in Australia, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA - www.ahpra.gov.au) requires International Medical Graduates to have successfully passed AMC 1 & AMC 2 exams and have completed a one-year internship internationally or in Australia.

You should review the AMC website – www.amc.org.au – for specifics or Medical Council of New Zealand (www.mcnz.org.nz).



11. What are the admissions requirements?

The MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree requires that a student have a Bachelor's degree or an equivalent four-year degree with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. GAMSAT may be required, depending on your background and experience. If you are a healthcare professional with five or more years of clinical experience, you still need the bachelor's degree, but the GAMSAT requirement will be waived. Your clinical education and healthcare experience indicate that you are capable of doing well in this environment. A science major is not required.

OUM selects students that it believes will successfully complete the rigorous and demanding OUM medical degree. The admissions decision is based on academic success, test scores, healthcare experience where applicable, letters of recommendation, and the interview.



12. What types of students do you have enrolled in the programs?

OUM’s flexible program appeals to a wide variety of students—from new college graduates to working professionals interested in changing careers. The distance-learning component is attractive to many nurses, chiropractors, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists, paramedics, podiatrists, pharmacists, scientists, and other healthcare professionals. In addition, OUM has some students with non-science backgrounds such as business, accounting, law, art, and information technology.



13. How have OUM students performed on standardised registration exams?

OUM’s Australian and New Zealand graduates have passed either USMLE, Australian Medical Council exams, or the New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) and are completing internships and post-graduate training.  OUM graduates have performed extremely well on the AMC exams and NZREX, with almost all passing on their first attempt.



14. Where are OUMís students practising?

OUM’s Australian and New Zealand graduates have passed either USMLE, Australian Medical Council exams, or the New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) and are completing internships and post-graduate training. Please note, for registration in Australia, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA - www.ahpra.gov.au) requires International Medical Graduates to have successfully passed AMC 1 & AMC 2 exams and have completed a one-year internship internationally or in Australia.



15. I 've already been to medical school. Do I need to take the preclinical courses again?

OUM cannot offer advance standing, for several reasons: a) Our program is case-based so it would be impossible to isolate which courses you may have had and which you have not; b) If you have been out of school for 10-15 years, you are going to need the review to pass the licensing exams; c) Some students who have attended Caribbean medical programs that offer advanced standing, after investing the time and money, have been denied medical licensure in certain states. If you're looking for a school with this option, OUM is not for you. Be diligent about understanding your state's requirements regarding advanced standing or credit for previous training. The advantage that your prior education will give you at OUM is that these past studies should make learning the material easier for you. Your previous schooling in health sciences, together with more than five years of clinical experience, may exempt you from taking the GAMSAT for entrance. Please contact the OUM admissions office for details.



16. Will I have to travel to Samoa?

All students matriculating to OUM after 2011 are required to complete at least one four-week clinical rotation in Samoa or American Samoa. Students should apply for the Samoa rotation at least six months in advance through their regional dean.  Other than the required rotation, it is not necessary for the student to attend class in Samoa, though additional clinical rotations may be arranged with advance notice



17. Will I be able to practice medicine in Samoa after graduation?

Yes it is possible.  Citizens from other countries wishing to practice medicine in Samoa are required to do an 18-month internship through the National Health Service in Samoa, must meet the country's immigration requirements and successfully apply to the Samoan Ministry of Health. Students and prospective students are advised to check with their respective state licensing boards for specific information. Please note that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA - www.ahpra.gov.au) requires students trained overseas to complete a one-year internship internationally or in Australia.



18. May I speak with some current students?

OUM sponsors monthly “Meet the Student” and “Meet the Graduate” sessions for prospective students to interact live with current students and graduates.  Check the Special Events page for details on the next session.  Though our students are extremely busy with their studies, work and family demands, it may be possible to arrange a private conversation, depending on their availability, the best way to initiate conversation is through e-mail, and the two of you can arrange a telephone appointment, if you choose. If you provide your e-mail address to your OUM admissions counsellor, s/he will try to arrange it.



19. What kind of financial aid is available?

OUM is a full fee paying course. Because OUM has significantly reduced its tuition fees, scholarships and loans from the University are not available. To ease the burden of tuition payments, OUM has created payment plans. See the Financial Aid page for more details. For Australian students, HECS-HELP is not available.



20. Is your program accredited?

Yes. OUM is the only internationally-accredited medical school in the South Pacific.  OUM earned its accreditation in 2010 from the Philippine Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU).   PAASCU is one of 23 accrediting bodies recognised by the United States National Committee on Foreign Medical Education & Accreditation, the body charged with reviewing standards to accredit medical schools in foreign countries to determine that the standards are comparable to those used to accredit medical schools in the United States. In addition, OUM graduates who register with the Australian Medical Council (AMC) or Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) are acknowledged as international medical graduates from an approved medical school as listed in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED). This approval allows OUM graduates to sit for the AMC or MCNZ licensing examinations.



21. What happened to OUMís MBBS program?

OUM’s graduate-entry MBBS program became the new MD program in 2014.  As many Australian universities have begun offering the MD degree, OUM responded by adding a research component to the curriculum to meet Australian MD standards.

OUM discontinued offering the undergraduate MBBS program in 2014, which was assumed by the National University of Samoa.