Our Approach to Learning
Oceania University of Medicine’s MBBS curriculum is similar to traditional medical school settings. Like many medical schools worldwide, OUM uses intensive problem-based learning (PBL), presenting and integrating basic sciences and clinical content in a case study format. OUM’s MBBS graduate-entry program is four years, not five, with the first two years studying basic sciences and the final two years of medical school in largely hospital-based clinical rotations to develop patient care skills. And like all medical students attending an overseas medical school, OUM students must pass the Australian Medical Council exam in order to practise in Australia.
But while the academic material is similar, its delivery is a new concept in medical education. OUM utilizes a computer-based curriculum presented by experienced online instructors, all with advanced degrees -- an MD, MBBS or PhD. Students combine real-time virtual classroom lectures with student study groups, discussion boards, independent study, and Internet research. All students must pass an information literacy assignment, designed by the medical school’s e-librarian, to assess their skills and comfort level navigating online research sources.
The advantage to the OUM approach? Logistics. The OUM program provides a medical education to those who face distance, personal, and professional challenges, especially those individuals who live in remote areas of the world without a medical school nearby. That was the school’s original mission on the island nation of Samoa, a mission that has flourished.
Unavoidably, life experiences can also interfere with medical school plans. As young adults, marriage, children, and careers can make medical school seem unattainable. These barriers are removed with OUM’s distance-learning curriculum. The Internet-based study allows students to maintain a full or part-time work schedule throughout the first two years of medical school. This opportunity to work during preclinical study allows students to personally and financially prepare for the full-time responsibility of hospital-based clinical training during their final two years.
Is this a viable way to learn basic sciences during the first two years of medical school? Absolutely. Don’t assume that a “bricks and mortar” classroom equates with class attendance. The Internet’s vast growth during the past two decades has redefined the study of medicine – for students, faculty, even patients. All students learn differently and OUM’s curriculum is intended for independent, adult, self-learners who grasp material best during intense private study, supplemented with personal online faculty and classmate interaction.
OUM’s physician mentors – a signature component of the curriculum – provide even more interaction. A student’s mentor acts as a guide, coach, and role model. Mentors do not teach case content or curriculum theory, but offer clinical experience and advice relevant to the current module. All students identify a physician mentor in his or her home community who is then approved and compensated by the school. That individual must be a practising physician in good standing, have Internet access and be available to students for at least one hour each week.
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