And pointers on clinical skills, AMC & internships at March Conference

Nearly 60 students and graduates converged on OUM’s fourth annual Australia-New Zealand Student Conference 8-10 March in Melbourne. (Photo album follows story)

Programming during the weekend conference centered around clinical skills development, the Australian Medical Council exam, fulfilling the research requirement, and strategies for obtaining internships. And, of course, there was plenty of time to meet fellow students and get advice from upper-class students.

After warm welcomes by Dr. Meshach and Joe Korac, Dr. Lameko—who had traveled from Samoa—gave an overview of what to expect in the hospital setting at TTM in Apia and elsewhere. Drs. Diamante and Ramesh traveled from the USA and India, respectively, to give pre-clinical and clinical students pointers on clinical skills. And Dr. Majid Gondal, who replaced the beloved Dr. Johannes Wenzel from previous years, gave students tips on both parts of the AMC exam.

“This year’s conference offered a more diverse range of presentations, all well prepared and delivered,” says Tom Dalton, a third-year student from Sydney and newly elected President of OUMSA. “Having a student who has recently graduated and has worked through the ‘after OUM’ requirements to obtain an Australian internship, is always a positive and helps in giving a motivational boost.”

Research also was highlighted on Saturday, with presentations by Drs. Brown and Camera on the steps students should take to prepare their research projects. Graduate Dr. Naomi Briggs and third-year student Marcus See gave students overviews of their projects.

“Many of the other students agreed that having Dr. Brown and Dr. Camera chat about research helped make it seem a little less daunting,” says Elisa Winterton, a first-year student from Brisbane. “Having students present their research was also a great way to understand what the process involves and also why we shouldn’t leave it to the last minute to start – it’d be great to see more of these presentations at future conferences.”

A “baker’s dozen” new doctors

Saturday evening featured OUM’s largest graduation exercise with 13 marching across the stage to receive congratulations from the University’s leadership, including University Founder Taffy Gould who traveled from the USA, Dr. Lameko, and nearly 100 students, family members, medical school faculty and staff, and others.

“This was a wonderful day for OUM,” Dr. Lameko told the crowd. “The ceremony does not mark the end of their education but the beginning of a new medical career for our graduates.”

The graduates included Dr. Alan Lee (MBBS) from the United States, and from Australia, Dr. Celeste Barrington (MD); Dr. Chamara Samarasinghe (MD); Dr. Diana Stephen (MBBS); Dr. Hilary Skimming (MBBS), who also received the Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence; Dr. Kathryn Tram (MD); Dr. Kelechi Ibeh (MD); Dr. Kim Adriano (MBBS); Dr. Mark Wallace (MBBS); Dr. Naomi Briggs (MD); Dr. Nilofar Daneshi (MD); Dr. Paul Jordan (MBBS); Dr. Tausif Sawdagar (MD).

The graduates spoke about their OUM experiences and thanked their families for their support and for making their medical education possible.

OUM now has 110 graduates practicing medicine or undergoing post-graduate training in Samoa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.

Simultaneous OSCE sessions

Sunday was filled with students and graduates rotating amongst four different OSCE sessions in various specialties, facilitated by Dr. Meshach, Dr. Majid, Dr. Chellam, and Dr. Lata.

“These sessions were so popular, it was nearly impossible to tear the students away. We will definitely do them again,” says Joe Korac, who organized the conference along with Kerryn Graham, OUM admissions counselor and staff liaison with OUMSA.

“Whilst I appreciate you’re teaching US/NZ/Australia students so it needs to be a generic approach, the most valuable is ascertaining the medical analysis logic applicable to each patient – which can only be completed in an OSCE,” says Marie-Louise Tijs, a third-year student from Melbourne.

“I think the conference, especially the OSCE stations, helped in confirming the need to really know and retain all that we are learning,” says Dalton. “Sometimes it’s easy to just be quiz and exam ready, put what we learnt aside, and move on to the next topic. But seeing how what we are learning relates to real world diagnoses brings home what so many of the lecturers keep reminding us: ‘Keep making comparisons and links to other areas and continually build your clinical knowledge and understandings.’”

The weekend concluded with a frank talk by OUM graduate Dr. Paul Jordan, who began his internship in Tasmania earlier this year. He shared useful information on the steps one should and shouldn’t take in registering and preparing for the AMC exams and internships. For a link to the recording of his talk, click on https://oum.zoom.us/recording/share/EQkVdvx5VIfFk6gATy_pwchmfI33k_gJh03pU88v7vCwIumekTziMw.

“[The conference] reinforced what a supportive and nurturing environment OUM creates that most medical schools don’t foster. That in itself is very motivating,” says Natalie Burkhardt, a second-year student from New Zealand. “It is more like an OUM family. Sharing personal study challenges and strategies for managing the workload is very reassuring for new students arriving. I found this also when I attended in my first year.”

“What a bunch of high achievers and go getters! So amazing to see people with different professions or even multiple professions and multiple degrees still growing regardless of age, status and situation to achieve their dream,” says Eamon Paul Molloy, a first-year student from Perth. “Some persons have busy jobs, own businesses, high responsibility posts, are parents and single parents in some cases with large families yet still challenging themselves. What an amazing group of people!”

Students unable to attend kept up with the weekend’s events through the OUM Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OceaniaMed/) with many posts and pictures getting instant likes and comments. To see additional event coverage in the Samoa Observer, click on https://www.samoaobserver.ws/category/samoa/38626.

Photo Album: 2019 Australia-New Zealand Student Conference and Graduation Ceremony