Eighty percent of OUM students voiced their opinions of the University in the tenth annual OUM student survey, and the results were generally positive.
“These surveys are so important because they tell us what’s working and what’s not from the students’ perspective, giving them the platform on which to make suggestions for how the University can improve its services,” says Professor Randell Brown, OUM’s Vice Chancellor. “Some of OUM’s best programs have been born from suggestions made in the surveys over the past decade.”
Annual student conferences, enhanced student support and academic advising, clinical student advisors, increased teaching hours, and improved clinical case discussions are just a few of the initiatives that have evolved from student feedback and suggestions made since the surveys began in 2011.
Distributed last December with a mid-January 2021 closing, the survey’s 193 participants reflected the University’s diversity in terms of students’ country of residence, where they are in the program, and when they expect to graduate.
Overall satisfaction matched previous years’ levels, with nearly three-quarters of respondents citing good or excellent satisfaction with the OUM experience.
Not surprisingly, the highest ratings were enjoyed by the course instructors and academic advisors. In both cases, more than three-quarters of the students reported high satisfaction levels with those faculty members.
Likes and Dislikes
“Flexibility” was the word for what students like most about OUM. The word cloud below shows the words most frequently used by students to describe their “likes” about OUM.
While the dislikes were as diverse as the OUM student body itself, a few themes emerged among respondents including challenges arranging clinical rotations and structural issues varying from the Academic Calendar to length of breaks, exam windows, etc. A few students also commented on clinical skills teaching and technical issues, such as exam proctoring.
Several good suggestions were made by respondents, which University leaders are reviewing and will take into account.
Clinical Skills Course
The 82 clinical students responding to the survey shared insight into how OUM’s clinical skills courses have helped prepare them for their clinical clerkships. Forty-three percent said they took the eight-week Clinical Skills Course, while 15 percent reported taking an on-site clinical skills course that was not a formal part of the OUM curriculum.
Most students taking the eight-week Clinical Skills Course reported that it did help them prepare for their rotations, especially with history-taking & physical examination and building rapport with patients. Those who did not feel the course had prepared them wanted more face-to-face interaction and practice on such procedures as cannulation and venipuncture.
Those taking outside clinical skills courses thought they were generally helpful.
Students taking the 12-week Internal Medicine rotation in Samoa, which previously satisfied the clinical skills requirement, generally felt it was a valuable experience.
Good Marks for Technology, Library, and Research
Nearly two-thirds of students using tech support were satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received, while 16 percent said they did not use it in the past year.
For the OUM library, two-thirds of students said they were satisfied or very satisfied. While many had no suggestions for improvement, some students recommended resources that would be helpful to them. Students provided valuable input on new and planned library services.
OUM students are starting their research projects earlier, according to the survey. In 2020, only 20 percent had not yet started their projects – in 2019, 25 percent had not started their projects, and 41 percent had not started them in 2018.
“I’m very happy to see this,” says Dr. Daria Camera, Director of Research. “We have enhanced teaching on research methods and techniques, and students are now required to have their prospectuses approved before they begin their rotations.”
The OUM Student Survey has been administered at the end of each of the past 10 years to the entire student body. While participation is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged. Participation rates in early years was 45-50 percent, but they have been above 70 percent the past three years. The University’s Steering Committee, as well as several faculty and administrative committees, have copies of the 70-page report and are incorporating student input and ideas into their plans for the development of future policies and procedures and for University-wide strategic planning. The detailed results of each survey also are shared with PAASCU, OUM’s international accrediting agency, and the Samoa Qualifications Authority.