OUM's undergraduate MBBS curriculum is a five-year residential program in Samoa, completed over 212 weeks of instruction divided into three phases:
Foundation Sciences, beginning with Introduction to Medicine (60 weeks)
Module 1: Introduction to Medicine (e-ITM)
Introduction to Medicine, or e-ITM, is the first module taken in the medical program and begins the preclinical phase of study. Students attend lectures on campus presented in the classroom or live online from medical scholars in Australia, North America, and other academic centers. To supplement the lectures and to ensure that the material is being learned, live tutorials are given by instructors in small meeting rooms on campus. Students are oriented to OUM’s self-directed learning system (Moodle) online through the e-ITM using the Collaborate virtual classroom system. The module’s focus is to provide a solid background and understanding of the basic sciences.
The e-ITM is offered during a 20-week period, beginning with a compulsory orientation program. 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. Basic sciences are presented via Collaborate in two-week blocks, some individually and others combined, as follows:
The course is intended to introduce the student to the language and major concepts of each basic science discipline. Each block will be taught Tuesday-Saturday afternoons for two hours (Samoa time). At the end of each two-week block, the student will be administered a final examination.
Following the 20-week e-ITM, students are given a more intensive exposure to the basic sciences through during the 40-week Foundation Science module, which covers the same basic science disciplines taught during the e-ITM. Each four-week e-Foundation Science block is also delivered via Collaborate on a combined weekday/weekend schedule. Live tutorials are held on campus to reinforce the material and to provide students with an outlet to ask additional questions.
Modules 2 through 11: System-Based Preclinical Study
These ten system-based modules are eight weeks in length and combine the basic and clinical sciences in a case format. During each week of the module, a new PBL case and its supporting materials are accessed online through Moodle and fully examined as the basis for classroom discussion. Seven cases are covered each term with Week 8 dedicated to exam study and review. Along with a detailed case presentation, the student will receive a live Collaborate lecture from the faculty, participate in another live Collaborate session which covers additional key concepts/tasks, and engage in directed independent study. The system-based modules include:
As students progress through each preclinical module, they develop and improve clinical reasoning skills as they apply their expanding knowledge to virtual medical scenarios depicting unique, as well as common, human conditions and ailments. These skills are essential to success during the core clinical clerkships and electives.
Each module also runs a laboratory problem session for students to discuss physiological concepts (equations & graphical data), analyse clinical laboratory data, and discuss clinically relevant case data in the form of clinical multiple choice questions.
Throughout the e-ITM and the preclinical modules, each student will meet regularly with a physician mentor, who will help direct the student’s studies as well as assess the student’s progress.
Bridging Course: Transition from Clinical Theory to Clinical Rotations
Graduating students with superior clinical skills is a key educational objective of OUM’s MBBS program. In order to assure that these skills are in place prior to the start of clinical rotations, OUM delivers a three-part clinical skills course midway through the preclinical curriculum to bridge the theory taught during beginning modules with the hands-on training taught during rotations. The course is designed to prepare students to be able to examine patients and to communicate effectively and professionally with patients and family members. It also prepares students to order and review of diagnostic tests and pathology reports, especially in hospital scenarios. Upon completion, students should demonstrate professional behaviour and skills needed to interact with patients in both hospital and outpatient settings.
During core rotations, students are assigned to the clinical supervisor at an OUM-affiliated teaching facility to complete clerkship training. Together with the hands-on work, students complete five PBL cases, directed learning activities, and supportive lectures associated with the clerkship (five cases for eight-week rotations; less for four-week rotations). Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient hospital settings. At the completion of each core rotation, students will be evaluated using a variety of assessment tools.
The core clinical modules in OUM’s MBBS program and their durations are:
In the second year on campus, undergraduate MBBS students are assigned to a physician mentor who will be their advisor and counsellor throughout the five-year program. Mentors do not teach case content or curriculum theory, but during weekly meetings, offer clinical experience and advice relevant to the student's current module. In short, mentors act as a student guide, coach, and role model. Mentors also monitor the student's behaviour and attitudes toward patients, other healthcare professionals, and the practice of medicine in general. This information is provided to the university in evaluation forms mentors complete at the conclusion of each module. Through the mentor, OUM can also monitor student well-being. If a mentor identifies that his/her student appears to be excessively stressed or not coping with the workload, they are asked to contact the university, which will arrange for counselling.
Problem-Based Learning and Curriculum Delivery
OUM's entire medical education program - undergraduate MBBS and graduate-entry MD/MBBS - is deeply rooted in a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum, the cornerstone of modern medical school teaching. All PBL course materials are presented in a case study format which, during the Preclinical phase, link basic sciences with the development of clinical reasoning through a virtual patient scenario. Case studies provided during the Clinical phase of study focus on patient management issues and concepts. All PBL cases reference current core medical and basic science textbooks, journal articles, and verified websites.
OUM delivers curriculum material to students in a variety of formats including:
In addition to module exams, students are required to successfully pass a key hurdle examination held at the end of each phase of study before moving onto the next phase. These are: Final Preclinical Exam and Final Clinical Exam (Knowledge & Skills).
OUM recognises that students establish a strong bond with their fellow students in each intake cohort and acknowledges the importance of keeping the cohort together throughout their degree where possible. The University will run catch-up/remedial classes over a six-week period twice per year (end-of-year and mid-year) for those students who fail up to two modules per semester in the foundation phase or one module per semester in the preclinical and clinical phase (core rotations). Repeated poor performance will be addressed by a committee of faculty members. Students may also complete small research projects during these periods in collaboration with the University Research Committee.
Interwoven throughout OUM's entire undergraduate MBBS curriculum are four distinct themes with associated skills and concepts that further enhance the learning experience:
Scientific Basis of Medicine
Basic First Aid & Resuscitation
Evidence-Based Medicine & Epidemiology
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