Frequently Asked Questions

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

 Oceania's academic year is comprised of six, six-week academic terms. Incoming MD students begin the program with the Introduction to Medicine module (e-ITM). In 2014, MD students may start the program during one of two e-ITM offerings: January 13 - May 30 (Orientation is January 4) or July 28 - December 12 (Orientation is July 19).



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 utilizing 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.

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 summarized 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 self-assessment (quiz) is taken at the end of each weekly case, and a summative examination is given at the end of each module.

For a minimum of one hour each week, students are also required to meet face-to-face with a physician mentor in their community. 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.

Halfway through the program, upon passing the Final Pre-Clinical Examination, clinical rotations are arranged and taken at teaching hospitals, as they are in traditional medical schools. 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. 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 practise 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 practise 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 .



4. 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 practise upon graduation to learn the necessary licensing reuqirements. 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. Most states and territories require completion of a one-year supervised internship program and passage of the national examinations before registering to practise in a state or territory. You should review the AMC website – www.amc.org.au – for specifics.



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

Students have three options for clinical rotations: 1) complete clinical rotations near the OUM campus at the National Hospital Complex in Samoa; or 2) complete clinical rotations at a regional accredited teaching hospital formally affiliated with OUM.

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 as an OUM student in good standing, one can be guaranteed clinical rotations in Samoa's National Hospital.



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

Your local physician mentor is your guide to the practise of medicine. You will meet with him or her for at least two hours each week - number of visits varies -- to discuss your studies and other medical practise 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 return. Students may not begin their second module without an approved mentor. OUM provides an honorarium and guidelines for the mentor relationship.



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

Yes, during the first half of the curriculum but not during the final eight terms (clinical rotations). The opportunity for students to work a full schedule during the first two years (pre-clinical terms, 1-12) is one feature that sets OUM apart from a traditional medical school setting. For students who continue working during the first 12 modules, a 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.



8. I've been to medical school and have had many of the basic science courses. Do I have to take the pre-clinical courses again, or can you give me advance standing?
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 country’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 exam for entrance. Healthcare professionals with that level of expertise already have demonstrated that they are likely to be successful in medical school. Please contact the OUM admissions office for details.

9. What is the Introduction to Medicine course like?

Introduction to Medicine, or e-ITM, is the first module taken in the MBBS 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 utilizing 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 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 likely 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, 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 modules are four weeks in duration and also delivered via Collaborate on a weekday schedule and are recorded for more convenient viewing.



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

Yes, in fact, OUM's Samoan scholarship recipients are required to serve the country's health system for four years. Citizens from other countries wishing to practise medicine in Samoa must meet the country's immigration requirements and successfully apply to the Samoan Ministry of Health. Again, students and prospective students are advised to check with their respective state licensing boards for specific information. Please note that the Australian Medical Council requires students trained overseas to complete a one-year internship in the country of their medical school, i.e. an OUM graduate will need to undertake a one-year internship in Samoa before being eligible for licensure in Australia. The internships in Samoa are currently not paid.



11. What's it like in Samoa? Is it safe?

OUM is located on the grounds of the National Hospital Complex, the major hospital in the capital city of Apia. Many medical students from British Commonwealth countries spend a semester in Samoa, working in the hospital on clinical rotations. The OUM building is a newly re-designed learning space with an air-conditioned computer lab, classroom and administrative space, all convenient and available to faculty and students.

Samoa is a peaceful country. Located in the tropics, it is hot and humid with beautiful beaches and rainforest. The diving and snorkeling are great. It's not unlike visiting an island nation in the Caribbean. The people are warm and friendly.



12. How old is the school? How many students?

The school was founded in 2002, in close collaboration with the Samoan government, so its future is secure. The program began by making sure that the computer-assisted curriculum worked well before opening it to large numbers of students. The school deliberately started small and has approximately 140 students enrolled worldwide. OUM is selective about the students it accepts, making certain they have the self-motivation and discipline necessary to complete the course. 



13. Where are OUM’s students practising?

OUM has produced 43 graduates. OUM’s Australian and New Zealand graduates have passed either USMLE, Australian Medical Council exams, or the New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREZ) and are completing internships and post-graduate training. Several additional students will graduate in 2013 and begin postgraduate training. Please note that the Australian Medical Council requires students trained overseas to complete a one-year internship in the country of their medical school, i.e. an OUM graduate will need to undertake a one-year internship in Samoa before being eligible for licensure in Australia.



14. May I speak with some current students?

Absolutely. OUM encourages you to do so. 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 counselor, s/he will forward it to one or two current students who will contact you.



15. 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 analyze 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.



16. What are the admissions requirements?

The MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery) 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 and a minimum score of 45 on the GAMSAT, if you are required to take it. 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 may 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.



17. What kind of financial aid is available?

Because OUM has significantly reduced its tuition fees, scholarships and loans from the University are not available. The University will work with private scholarship and lending sources to assist students finding their own funding. To ease the burden of tuition payments, OUM has created payment plans. See the Financial Aid page for more details.



18. 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, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, ambulance officers, podiatrists and other healthcare professionals. In addition, OUM has some students with non-science backgrounds such as business, accounting, art, and information technology.



19. Is your program accredited?

Yes. OUM earned its accreditation in November 2010 from the Philippine Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). PAASCU was a founding member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education in 1991 and the Asia-Pacific Quality Network, which was established in 2003. In addition, OUM graduates who register with the Australian Medical Council (AMC) 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 licensing examinations.