The OUM Curriculum (Basic Science Track)

OUM’s MD curriculum is divided into two main phases: Preclinical and Clinical. It is recommended that students intending to practice in the United States enroll in the Basic Science Track, which begins with nine four-week basic science blocks (100 series), followed by nine system-based modules, and three 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 complete system-based modules, and performance is assessed on a variety of criteria at the close of each module. The program utilizes 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


Basic Science Track

Entering students are oriented to OUM’s self-directed learning system (Moodle) using the Collaborate virtual classroom system. Students in the Basic Science Track will have an extensive exposure to the basic sciences, which are essential to the practice of medicine and will be tested on UMSLE Step 1.  

The basic science blocks are offered over a nine-month period, beginning with a two-day compulsory orientation program held at a convenient location in the United States. 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. The nine four-week blocks include:

  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. pathology

After completion of the basic science blocks, students proceed to the system-based modules, which also will demonstrate the practical application of the basic sciences through case-based study.  

Modules 10 through 19: 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 behavioral 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), analyze 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 20 through 21: 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 the United States.

MD students matriculating in between Terms 1304 (July 2013) and 1504 (July 2015) may enroll in OUM's clinical skills course or in the Kaplan Clinical Skills course for international students prior to beginning the first clerkship. For MD students who have matriculated prior to term 1304, the Kaplan CS course will be recommended, but not required. The didactic portion of the course is offered in an on-line format for four, three-hour sessions, seven times per year or a five-day live course in Chicago, Newark or Pasadena (14-17 sessions per year).

USMLE Step 1

The preclinical modules are benchmarked to cover much of the content required by USMLE Step 1. After completing the twelfth and final preclinical module, MD students must pass the USMLE Step 1 to be eligible to proceed into the clinical phase of study.

Prior to taking Step 1, the student must pass OUM’s In-House Exam that uses USMLE-style questions to help assess the student’s readiness to take the exam.  Offered on the last Saturday of each month, the In-House Exam is recommended to students to take throughout the preclinical curriculum in order to help gauge their progress toward readiness for Step 1.

OUM has resources to help students prepare for USMLE Step 1, including a USMLE Personal Trainer course and personal guidance from faculty and academic advisors.


Upon completing the preclinical modules and passing USMLE Step 1, MD students become eligible to begin 72 weeks of clinical clerkships/rotations at OUM-affiliated teaching hospitals throughout the United States. 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 passing USMLE Step 1.

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 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 & Gynecology

8 weeks


4 weeks

Emergency Medicine

4 weeks

Community Medicine

8 weeks

NOTE: Students enrolling 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.

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 may focus on patient management problems, exposure to the specialties, and the acquisition of additional procedural skills prior to beginning a supervised internship/residency program.

As the core rotations are completed, the student will prepare for and take USMLE Step 2 CK & CS (Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills), which are required for licensure in the USA and for post-graduate training.

Prior to the final year of study, American students gather the appropriate documentation necessary to apply for the National Residency Match Program. It is strongly recommended that all core rotations be completed prior to applying for the annual match. Following extensive application reviews and personal interviews, students and residency programs are put through a computer “match” based upon mutual preferences given by both students and the programs. All senior medical students throughout the US receive their residency acceptance on Match Day, held at the same time each March.

e-ITM Track

Students planning to practice in Canada or other countries outside of the United States may wish to enroll in the e-ITM track, which has less exposure to the basic sciences and takes a little less time.  For more information, click here to visit OUM’s World MD website. 

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 college 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 years, which includes completion of the necessary e-Foundation Sciences blocks that provide the basis to pass USMLE Step 1.

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 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.