Concurrent SBMs, remediation, good standing, and LOAs revised

The OUM Academic Board has clarified the limited circumstances under which students may accelerate their progress through the curriculum, remediation for pre-clinical modules, the definition of good standing for pre-clinical and clinical students, and the guidelines for transitioning from the Post-Baccalaureate program to the MD program. The Board also announced new opportunities for students who are on a Leave of Absence (LOA) to remain engaged in their studies.

“At OUM, we are committed to providing flexibility and we realize that sometimes life events necessitate a leave of absence. But we also need structure and parameters to maintain the integrity of our program and ensure that students graduate with the requisite fund of knowledge and within a reasonable amount of time. To that end, the Academic Board reviewed several policies regarding student progress,” says Chris Dudley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration & Student Affairs. “In addition to addressing leaves of absence, we clarified the conditions under which students may take more than one system-based module at the same time.”

For any discussion about student progress at OUM, it is worth noting that accreditation requires that students complete the program in a minimum of four years, so there is a limit to how quickly students may complete the program.

Doubling up on SBMs

Students occasionally request to take two System-Based Modules to meet a deadline for an upcoming clinical rotation or to accelerate their progress in the program. The Student Affairs Committee (SAC) reviews these requests. While e-Foundation blocks may not be taken concurrently, a high performing student may be approved to take two SBMs concurrently. To be eligible to “pair” two SBMs in one term, the student must have an overall average of 75 or higher and have achieved final grades of 85 or higher on his/her previous two SBMs or an average of 80 on the quizzes and final exams on his/her previous two SBMs. Because good performance in the SBMs must be established before the student is allowed to double up, the soonest a student would be eligible to “pair” SBMs would be the fourth and beyond.

The Trends & Topics module may be “paired” with another System-Based Module with approval from the SAC, while Research Methodology may be “paired” with another System-Based Module without prior approval. The eight-week Clinical Skills Course may not be “paired” with another System-Based Module, other than the Research module and possibly Trends & Topics, with permission from the Student Affairs Committee.

For students who enrolled in Term 1801 or later, the Day-One Clinical Skills Course and the Research module are designed to be taken concurrently with other blocks and modules.

Remediation in the pre-clinical phase

e-Foundation block or SBM. A student remediating an e-Foundation block or System-Based Module may not take it concurrently with another block or module. If the student is struggling in the subject, he/she needs to concentrate on passing it without distractions.

e-Foundation 300 series. Since the e-Foundation 300 series includes 10 subjects taught throughout three segments (groups of blocks) and subject examinations are interwoven and result in the segment’s final grade, a failure of a segment in the 300 series will result in the following:

  1. One failure toward the University’s limit of three failures before a student is dismissed for academic performance.
  2. The student may enroll in the next segment of the e-F 300 series.
  3. The student must remediate the failed segment (live or asynchronously) in one of two ways:
    1. Repeat the failed segment when it is next offered.
    2. Enroll in the corresponding e-F 100 blocks.
  4. A passing grade must be earned on the remediated subject matter before the student is permitted to advance to the System-Based Modules.

FCE OSCE. A student who faces remediation for the FCE OSCE must meet with his/her regional dean or the dean’s designate to develop a study plan based on the student’s deficiencies, with follow-up meetings to ensure compliance. If the student has missed the passing score by one or two stations (passing for the ANZ exam is 12/16), the student may re-take the exam at next scheduled OSCE, at least one month later.

If the student has missed the passing score by three or more stations:

  1. The student must wait at least six months before re-taking the OSCE at a future available date.
  2. If the student started clinical rotations prior to 2018 and is not required to pass the FCE MCQ exam, the student must sit and pass the FCE MCQ exam within six months of the OSCE failure.

The remediating student will be accommodated on a space-available basis and will not bump a first-time examinee. A special sitting of the OSCE exam will not be arranged to accommodate a student, unless it can be arranged through an approved third-party vendor and at the complete expense of the student. The re-examination fee of $400 or third-party facilities costs (whichever is higher) will apply to the remediated OSCE.

Each failure of the FCE MCQ exam or OSCE will count toward the student’s allotment of permissible failures. According to University policy, a student is subject to dismissal after three course failures or one graduation requirement exam failure.

Defining good standing

Per OUM policy, for a student to remain in good standing with adequate progress toward graduation, he/she must complete at least 24 weeks of instruction per year. For pre-clinical students, good standing is based on actual weeks of instruction, rather than on calendar weeks, while for clinical students, good standing is based on calendar weeks, not weeks of instruction.

Preclinical. The number of instruction weeks of each block or module taken alone will count toward the student’s total good standing status. See the curriculum chart for the applicable weeks of instruction for a block or module. The Day-One Clinical Skills Course, which is taken concurrently with other modules, will not count toward the total weeks of instruction for a year while the Research Methodology course will count for six weeks of instruction. In any calendar year, only the first “pair” of SBMs taken in one term would count toward a student’s “good standing status,” i.e. the two modules would comprise 12 of the 24 weeks needed to meet the student’s annual good standing status. The second “pair” of SBMs taken concurrently would count only as six weeks toward the student’s “good standing status.”

Enrollment in exam review courses, such as Structured Study Protocol (SSP) and Basic Science Immersion (BSI), will count toward the student’s “good standing” requirement, based on the number of registered and paid weeks of instruction.

Clinical. A student must complete 72 calendar weeks of clinical instruction in the form of the clinical clerkships and electives as laid out in the curriculum. It is not possible to take more than one clinical rotation at a time nor are students allowed to expedite a rotation and finish it before the prescribed number of calendar weeks. In other words, students are not allowed to spend extra hours (on weekends or a holiday) and expect to finish early.

OUM strongly discourages students from working during their clinical rotations, and for the most part, students comply. In the rare instances where a student decides to go against the advice of the University, he/she may not work at the same hospital or clinical facility as the clinical clerkship without written permission of the clinical rotation preceptor.

Sage advice: Maximize rotations

At the recent University-Wide Meeting, Dr. C.S. Benjamin, OUM Dean for Asia-Pacific, seemed to be addressing student desires to rush through rotations. “’If you do one delivery, you are a student in obstetrics. If you do 40 deliveries, you are the Registrar in obstetrics.’ This means you should see as many patients as possible during your clinical rotations. That is what gives you experience, that is what makes you confident, and that is what gives you all the possibilities that can occur on a particular issue. And those things will make you a very good doctor,” says Dr. Benjamin.

Self-paced learning during LOA

The Academic Board also approved a resolution intended for students who have been granted a leave of absence or who are not enrolled in consecutive courses during a calendar year.

“Unfortunately, a number of students who are granted a leave of absence or an extension, do not return to full-time study. We think for students who are on leave, a self-paced program would help them retain what they have learned, and expand their fund of knowledge, so they do not fall too far behind,” says Dr. Scott Cunningham, Director of Curriculum.

The hope is that the self-paced learning – consisting of independent learning and weekly testing – will reduce the attrition that is a consequence of not being engaged, adds Dr. Cunningham. Students will work with the Deputy Vice Chancellor, their regional Dean, and/or Director of Curriculum to create an individualized reading list to review courses that the student already has taken and provide focused study on select basic sciences, as needed.

“This self-paced learning is totally optional, but we are hopeful that students who need to take a leave will recognize the value of staying engaged in their studies while they are dealing with the myriad issues that may make a LOA necessary,” says Dudley. “Intuitively, it makes sense that if you step back from your studies for three months or more, you risk losing momentum. We are trying to minimize that, so students on leave don’t fall behind.”