The OUM Curriculum (e-ITM Track)

OUM’s MD curriculum is divided into two main phases: Preclinical and Clinical. The preclinical phase involves 20 weeks of Introduction to Medicine (e-ITM), at least 10 weeks of e-Foundation Sciences (200-series), 54 weeks (nine modules) of additional preclinical system-based content, as well as modules focused on trends and topics in medicine, research methodology, and a clinical skills course. During the clinical phase, students will complete 72 weeks of clinical clerkships. Students needing additional exposure to the basic sciences may also benefit from up to 40 weeks of e-Foundation Science modules (100-series) or may enrol in the Basic Science Track.  Click here for information about the Basic Science Track.

Students complete system-based modules, and performance is assessed on a variety of criteria at the close of each module. The program utilises more than 90 problem-based learning (PBL) case studies throughout the course, covering a diverse range of pathologies. Each PBL case begins with a virtual patient presentation (or scenario) and follows patient progression through the following stages:

• Patient presentation
• History & physical examination
• Differential diagnosis
• Laboratory tests & diagnostic imaging
• Provisional diagnosis
• Short-term management
• Long-term management


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. Entering 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 online over 20 weeks, beginning with a compulsory orientation program held online. 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 advisers. Basic sciences are presented via Collaborate in two-week blocks, some individually and others combined, as follows:

1. biochemistry
2. molecular biology and medical genetics
3. physiology
4. anatomy, neuroanatomy, and embryology
5. microanatomy and cell biology
6. pharmacology
7. microbiology
8. immunology
9. behavioural medicine and biostatistics
10. pathology

The e-ITM module is intended to introduce the student to the language and major concepts of each basic science discipline. Each block features live lectures taught twice a week and daily recorded lectures via the Collaborate virtual classroom Tuesday-Saturday for two hours (Australia-New Zealand time). Students are tested through a weekly quiz, followed by a final examination at the conclusion of the two-week block. Because mastery of the basic sciences is essential to the practice of medicine, students scoring less than 60 percent on the final examination will be recommended to take the corresponding 100-level e-Foundation Sciences block. The 100-series e-Foundation Sciences blocks consist of four-week, intensive courses in each of the basic sciences.

e-Foundation Sciences

Upon completing the e-ITM, students take two five-week 200-series e-Foundation Sciences blocks:

  • e-Foundation Sciences 201 covers molecular biology, biochemistry, and human genetics.
  • e-Foundation Sciences 202 covers gross anatomy, general pathology, microbiology, immunology, and general pharmacology.

MD students scoring less than 60 percent in the e-Foundation Sciences 200-series will be required to take the corresponding 100-level e-Foundation Sciences block prior to enrolment in the system-based modules.  For example, a student scoring less than 60 on e-Foundation Sciences 201 will have to pass the 100-level Biochemistry and Molecular Biology & Medical Genetics blocks before progressing in the program.

The e-Foundation Sciences 100-series consists of four-week courses in the basic sciences and are available at an additional cost to all students who need them.  They are not required prior to beginning the system-based modules, unless the student does not make the required score in e-Foundation Sciences 201 & 202.

More extensively covering the same basic science disciplines taught during the e-ITM, each four-week 100-series e-Foundation Sciences block is delivered via Collaborate twice per week.

Modules 3 through 12: System-Based Preclinical Study

These ten system-based modules are six 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. Six cases are covered each term, with the final exam opening at the end of the sixth week. Students 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:

• Cardiovascular
• Endocrine
• Gastrointestinal
• Hemic-Immune
• Musculoskeletal
• Neurological/ Neuroscience
• Renal
• Reproductive
• Respiratory
• Trends & Topics in Medicine

Trends and Topics in Medicine includes case studies in behavioural medicine, legal medicine, ethics, and integrative medicine to offer the student a well-rounded exposure to current issues facing medicine.

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 an academic advisor, who will help direct the student’s studies as well as assess the student’s progress.

Modules 13 & 14:  Research Methodology and Clinical Skills

All students in the MD program are required to publish a research paper in Medical Student International, the student research journal created by OUM faculty, or a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation.  Students should enroll in the Research Methodology module early in their system-based modules so that a research adviser may assist with the preparation of the research prospectus, getting approvals through the Institutional Review Board, design and execute the research project, document the results, and prepare the manuscript.  The research project should be mostly completed during the system-based modules so that the student will not have the distraction during the clinical clerkships.

In order to prepare students for the clinical phase, a clinical skills course with online and onsite components will expose students to history taking and physical examination skills in a variety of patient scenarios that will be encountered during the clinical clerkships.  In addition to the tuition fee, students will be responsible for travel and accommodation expenses for the onsite component at a location in Australia.


Upon completing the preclinical modules, MD students become eligible to begin 72 weeks of clinical clerkships/rotations. The core clinical rotations cover 56 weeks, followed by 16 additional weeks of advanced electives. Students are required to begin clinical rotations within six months of completing the preclinical phase.

Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient hospital settings. 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, and supportive lectures associated with the clerkship. Students are required to view clinical lectures and take a corresponding written final examination for each core clerkship.

The core clinical modules in OUM’s MD program and their durations are:

Internal Medicine

12 weeks


12 weeks


8 weeks

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

8 weeks


4 weeks

Emergency Medicine

4 weeks

Community Medicine

8 weeks

NOTE: Students enroling in OUM after June 1, 2011, are required to complete at least one four-week clinical clerkship at OUM’s teaching hospital in Samoa. Community/Family Medicine is recommended, but it is suggested that students discuss the Samoa clerkship with their Dean prior to beginning the clinical modules. OUM recommends that students plan to spend their first couple of clinical modules in Samoa, where they will get extra attention in developing and refining clinical skills.  

In addition to the core clinical rotations, MD students will take 16 weeks of university-approved elective rotations in order to complete the 72-week requirement. The electives may expand further study into core subjects or introduce students to new areas to help them with career decisions. They can focus on patient management problems, exposure to the specialties, and the acquisition of additional procedural skills prior to beginning a supervised internship/residency program.

After the core rotations are completed and before graduation, the student will prepare for and take OUM’s Final Clinical Examination.  The written exam will measure the student’s clinical knowledge.  The clinical skills portion, set up as a multiple-station Objective Structured Clinical Examination, will evaluate the student’s clinical skills in a variety of different patient scenarios.

Depending upon where the student intends to undertake post-graduate training and to practice, licensure or registration exams may be required before or after graduation, depending upon local medical registration requirements. OUM has information about the requirements of the Australian Medical Council and the Medical Council of New Zealand.  For other jurisdictions, the student should check with local authorities.

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 some additional 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 years.

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.

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 enrol 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.