Our Approach to Learning

Oceania University of Medicine’s 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 MD program is based on a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, which is typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years.  Students spend the first half of the program studying basic sciences and the latter half of medical school in largely hospital-based clinical clerkships 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 practice in Australia and NZREX to practice in New Zealand.

But while the academic material is similar, its delivery is a new concept in medical education. OUM utilises 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, independent study, Internet research, and personal guidance from academic advisors.

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 preclinical Internet-based study allows students to maintain a full or part-time work schedule throughout the first half  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 clerkships.

Full Time or Part Time?

OUM’s flexible program allows full-time students to complete the program in as few as four years, while part-time students—working healthcare professionals who have been out of university for a while—may need to take the full complement of basic sciences and complete the degree within five years.

Only OUM has an MD program that allows healthcare professionals to continue working during the preclinical years.  During this time, students will study an average of 40-50 hours per week, gaining exposure to the sciences basic to the field of medicine by attending classes, interacting with colleagues, instructors, and academic advisors, as well as studying assigned textbooks.  Part-time students should be able to graduate within five to six years, which includes completion of the e-Foundation Sciences blocks that provide the knowledge necessary to pass OUM’s Final Preclinical Exam.

For full-time students—without career, family, and other commitments—OUM’s MD program may be completed in as few as four years, as the student is able to study the requisite 80-100 hours per week that successful students in a traditional medical school need to fully absorb the material.  Because they are able to spend the requisite study time, full-time students as well as those with advanced degrees in the basic sciences may elect to take more than one system-based module at a time.

Rigor and Flexibility

Flexibility allows OUM’s students to progress through the curriculum at their own pace.  OUM’s continuous student assessment program helps faculty determine which modules the student needs.  Those students with specific strengths in the basic sciences may not need to enroll in the 100 series e-Foundation Sciences.

The proper study of medicine is extremely demanding, not like anything most have ever experienced.  Even those with good to high grades in undergraduate and Master’s programs often find learning the amount of material required in a medical school very challenging.  The key is to budget the time needed to master the material.  Full-time students may progress through the program faster because they are able to devote the study time that may not be available to part-time students.  As a rule, the concepts are not difficult. The challenge lies in learning and retaining large amounts of information and learning to apply it appropriately. OUM provides all the resources a student needs in medical school, but the student needs to secure the time and focus needed to learn the material.

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 interaction with online faculty, academic advisors, and classmates.

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 practicing physician in good standing, have Internet access and be available to students for at least one hour each week.

Each student will have a personal academic advisor, who holds an MD, MBBS, or PhD, with whom the student may meet on a weekly basis to discuss his or her progress, any difficulties encountered, and key concepts in the course material.  The advisor may suggest additional reading and other resources to help the student overcome any difficulties.