Mission statement, clinical skills course in Samoa, and transfer student policy

The OUM Academic Board has revised the University’s 11-year-old mission statement, created financial consequences for those who withdraw from the highly popular 12-week Internal Medicine clerkship in Samoa, and broadened the University’s transfer student policy.

“The mission statement and transfer student policy were revised for consistency with new accreditation standards that PAASCU and other accrediting bodies must follow from the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME),” says Chris Dudley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration & Student Affairs. “The WFME is very results-oriented, and we want to be sure that we are ready to meet those standards when we engage in our self-study for PAASCU next year.”

A results-oriented mission statement

With input and approval from the University’s Chancellery, Steering Committee, Academic Board, and OUM Council, the revised mission statement will be:

Oceania University of Medicine exists to help qualified individuals overcome distance, personal, and professional barriers to become highly-trained physicians—committed to life-long learning—with the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes to care for patients; to prevent, treat, and cure disease; and to create and apply new knowledge to improve the health of underserved communities in Oceania and beyond.

“As many students and faculty have identified so strongly with OUM’s mission statement, great care was taken to preserve the University’s character while respecting WFME’s emphasis on results,” says Dudley. “Therefore, we added references to highly-trained physicians, life-long learning, patient care, overcoming disease, creating new knowledge through research, and disseminating information.”

The revised mission statement will be posted on the University’s website and publications.

New rules for the 12-week IM clerkship in Samoa

When the Academic Board created a pathway in 2016 to allow students to bypass the eight-week Clinical Skills Course by making their first clinical clerkship 12 weeks of Internal Medicine in Samoa, no one anticipated its popularity.

Only able to accommodate six students at a time in four 12-week sessions per year, the Samoa IM clerkship was quickly oversubscribed, with students signed up through mid-2020. However, the original resolution did not adequately address students changing plans or simply withdrawing from the rotation.

“With only two students currently enrolled in Internal Medicine, that means that four other students could have taken it up,” says Dr. Viali Lameko, Vice Chancellor and clinical supervisor of the 12-week Samoa IM clerkship. “So that doesn’t happen again, we need to take steps to deal with students who sign up but change their minds”

Only students who entered OUM in terms 1601 through 1704 are subject to the eight-week Clinical Skills Course requirement, and the new resolution has created an “alternate” spot for which a student with some flexibility may sign up and enroll in the clerkship if an opening occurs. The resolution also defined a tuition and hospital fee schedule depending upon when the student withdraws:

  • Cancellation more than 30 days prior to beginning the IM rotation: No fees for the rotation will be due or forfeited.
  • Cancellation 10-30 days prior to beginning the IM rotation: 50 percent of the tuition fee will be forfeited, unless another student can take the place of the cancelling student for the full rotation.
  • Cancellation 1-9 days prior to beginning the IM rotation: 75 percent of the tuition fee will be forfeited, unless another student can take the place of the cancelling student for the full rotation.
  • Cancellation or withdrawal after the IM rotation has begun: 100 percent of the tuition fee for the 12-week rotation will be forfeited, unless an alternate student is able to fill the slot. In addition, the hospital fee for the entire rotation will be forfeited.
  • If the alternate student is able to take the place of the cancelling student in the IM rotation, the cancelling student will lose (or be charged) a 10 percent cancellation fee for the entire rotation ($750).

If a student who has enrolled in the 12-week IM clerkship does not show up for or drops out of the clerkship before its completion, due to personal illness or that of a spouse, child, or parent under the direct care of the student, the student must provide the following in order to receive financial credit for the tuition fee:

  • A detailed personal statement from the student describing the circumstances.
  • An email from the student’s dean describing the situation and any efforts made to ameliorate the situation.
  • An original letter on the letterhead of the student’s personal physician or that of the affected family member describing the circumstances.

In addition, the student may be invited to an interview with the Student Affairs Committee and/or the Chancellery. Upon approval by the Student Affairs Committee and the Chancellery, the student will receive credit for the tuition fee but will be required to enroll in the eight-week Clinical Skills Course module and will not be eligible to substitute the IM Clerkship in Samoa for the eight-week Clinical Skills Course or a replacement course approved by OUM.

If the student’s departure from the IM rotation is successfully excused and the student returns to complete the IM rotation, his/her lost fees may be used as credit toward the second attempt. However, the excused returning student would be responsible for the $750 cancellation fee. If the student drops out of the rotation for a second time, s/he will not be allowed to return to the Samoa IM rotation, even if the absence is excused. S/he would be responsible for another $750 cancellation fee.

A student who does not show up for or withdraws from the 12-week IM Clerkship in Samoa will be required to complete the eight-week Clinical Skills Course before taking another clinical rotation. If the student drops out of the Samoa IM Clerkship after four weeks, s/he will have met the requirements of having passed the Samoa Clinical Skills Course and will receive elective credit (rather than credit for the IM Clerkship) to be eligible to enroll in another core clerkship in Samoa, after completing the eight-week Clinical Skills Course. If the student already has sufficient elective credits to graduate (16 weeks), credit will not be awarded in any other field—the student will simply have credit for an extra elective. If a student completes more than four weeks of the 12-week IM Clerkship in Samoa, any number of weeks completed beyond four weeks would be counted toward the IM core rotation requirement.

Tuition fees apply. The tuition fee for the 12-week Internal Medicine clerkship is $7,500, plus a hospital fee of SAT$200 per week (SAT$2,400 total). The tuition fee for the Clinical Skills Course of $5,000 will be waived only if the student completes the entire 12-week IM Clerkship in Samoa. The student is responsible for any and all travel expenses to/from Samoa and/or to any of the other locations of the clinical skills courses, as well as accommodation fees.

The 12-week Internal Medicine core clerkship is a requirement for graduation. It is not required to be completed in Samoa. However, all students matriculating to OUM in January 2011 and beyond are required to complete at least one four-week clinical rotation in Samoa.

Comprehensive transfer student policy

The third resolution passed by the Academic Board in November revised the University’s policy for admitting transfer students.

“We revised the policy for transfer students in order to conform with WFME requirements and to allow more students to be able to transfer into OUM, which is very important in this time when some of the Caribbean schools that cannot meet accreditation standards are closing down,” says Dudley. “We have to be ready to do our part and to take on those qualified students.”

As the previous transfer student policy only allowed clinical students to transfer into OUM, the new policy allows students at all levels to transfer into OUM. Thanks to the Interval Performance Examinations, inaugurated at OUM last year, transfer applicants will take an entrance exam based on their completed coursework and will then have a program customized for them, based on their strengths and weaknesses.

For more information, click here to visit the webpage with requirements for transfer students.

The Philippine Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), which has accredited OUM since 2010, and other medical school accrediting bodies around the world are required by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates to meet WFME standards by 2023. Students graduating in 2023 and beyond will not be allowed to practice in the United States if their medical school has not been accredited by a WFME-certified program. PAASCU is currently going through that certification process, and OUM will be among the first to be evaluated by the new standards. For more information, visit