USMLE Pathway (North America)

The USMLE Pathway is recommended for students who intend to practice in the United States and must pass the USMLE Step 1, which is heavily focused on the basic sciences. This Pathway may be completed in a minimum of five years.

The pre-clinical phase of the USMLE Pathway, presented through OUM’s online classroom, lasts a total of 126 weeks, including a 12-week Introduction to Medicine, 54 weeks dedicated to the eFoundation USMLE Basic Sciences and nine System-Based Modules. An OUM student may continue to work during this portion of the program if s/he is able to keep pace with the coursework. Some students opt for a reduced work schedule during this time.

The clinical phase consists of 72 weeks of clinical rotations at affiliated teaching hospitals and institutions. Outside employment is not allowed during the clinical phase.

12-week Introduction to Medicine

Students must complete the non-credit 12-week Introduction to Medicine before commencing the basic sciences. Students will be required to take pre- and post-exams and meet a threshold of a 70% score on the post-exam to continue in the medical curriculum. The pre- and post-exams measure medical school readiness and should help students identify strengths and weaknesses.

Live Interactive Sessions Online

Throughout the pre-clinical phase, students attend live interactive sessions with an instructor four days a week. The live interactive lectures are offered via the Zoom virtual classroom. Live sessions are held:

  • Monday – Thursday, 8 pm to 10 pm Eastern Time (North America)
  • Tuesday – Friday, late mornings to Midday (Australasia)

“I like the flexibility that OUM offers: the autonomy of having your own career, continuing to work, and still being able to fulfill your dream of becoming a doctor. ”

Firas H., Chiropractor, Class of 2019


Modules 1 through 9

Students begin the eFoundation 100 USMLE Basic Science modules after completing the 12-week Introduction to Medicine prep course with a post-exam score >70%. The nine e-Foundation Science 100-series offers an intensive look at basic science disciplines.

Each six-week module covers one or more of the following:

Classic and molecular biochemistry, including structure, function, and biosynthesis of macromolecules, metabolic interrelations and control mechanisms, and biochemical genetics. Application of recent advances in knowledge of molecular bases for cellular function to disease states (diagnosis, prevention, and treatment).

The study of the structure and function of the genetic material, including DNA structure, DNA replication and recombination, regulation of gene expression, and protein synthesis. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems are examined, including contemporary recombinant DNA technology and applications of molecular cloning procedures.

Introduction to statistical methods used by medical researchers, including descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, regression, and correlation.

Functional features of the major organ systems in the human body. Emphasis on homeostasis and the interactions of organ systems in health and disease.

The various classes of drugs that are used in medicine, particularly those used in specific or symptomatic treatment of disease states, are covered. Drugs of abuse are also covered. Emphasis is on the mechanisms of action of drugs at the organ and system level and on their use in medicine.

An introduction to human genetics. Topics include human gene organization and expression, chromosome structure, karyotyping, chromosomal aberrations, sex determination and sex chromosome abnormalities, patterns of single gene inheritance, linkage analysis, human gene mapping, inborn errors in metabolism, human population genetics, polymorphic cell surface antigens, multifactorial inheritance genetics of cancer, prenatal diagnosis, and uses of recombinant DNA in medical genetics.

Microanatomy is designed to provide students with knowledge of the major features of the structural organization of cells, tissues, and organs, and how that organization is related to function. Cell biology involves an analysis of the basic structure and function of human cells, with an emphasis on the regulation of cellular processes. The basic features of membranes, cellular compartmentalization, protein trafficking, vesicular transport, cytoskeleton, adhesion, signal transduction, and cell cycle are covered.

A systems approach to the analysis of human structure. Molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, and organ system levels of structure and organization are integrated throughout.

How neuroscience uses tools of many disciplines, from imaging to behavior, to develop and test hypotheses about functions of specific parts of the brain. Basic organization of nerve cells and the human nervous system, methods of visualizing nerve cells, neural connections, and neural activity patterns are covered.

Embryologic development from ovulation through birth is covered and is organized by organ systems. Topics are integrated with human anatomy to facilitate understanding of anatomic relationships, selected birth defects, and anatomic variants.

Comparative metabolism of small molecules and cell structure and relationship to microbial classification are covered, including macromolecule synthesis and regulation, cell division, growth, and effects of antibiotics.

A study of humoral and cellular immunology. Topics include lymphoid systems, cells, antigens, antibodies, antibody formation, cellular immunity, and tumor and transplantation immunology. Diseases and altered immune states associated with each topic are discussed in detail.

Lectures in normal human development and psychopathology. The class focuses on biological, psychological, and social substrates of normal and pathological human behavior, including major the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

An overview of the molecular mechanisms of human diseases, including neurologic, hematologic, neoplastic, and infectious diseases.

Problem-Based Learning

After completion of the basic science blocks, students proceed to the System-Based Modules, using problem-based learning to demonstrate the practical application of the basic sciences through case-based study. Each 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

Modules 10 through 18: System-Based Pre-clinical Study

Each System-Based Module is six weeks in length and combines the basic and clinical sciences in a case format. During each week of the module, several cases are accessed online through Moodle and fully examined as the basis for classroom discussion. Students will also participate in interactive lectures covering additional key concepts, and engage in directed independent study. As students progress through each module, they develop and improve the clinical reasoning skills which are essential to success during clinical rotations.

The System-Based Modules include:

The cardiovascular cases include chest pain, arterial hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmia, infective endocarditis, and congenital heart disease.

The endocrinology cases include thyroid disease, parathyroid disease, pituitary disease, adrenal disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The gastrointestinal cases include esophageal disorders, gastric and duodenal disorders, intestinal disorders, hepatic disorders, cirrhosis, and pancreatic and biliary disorders.

The hemic-immune system cases include immunodeficiency disorders, systemic lupus erythematosus, leukemia, lymphoma, anemia, and hemostasis.

The musculoskeletal cases include rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, osteogenesis imperfecta, gout, osteoporosis, and osteosarcoma.

The neurology and neuroscience cases include multiple sclerosis, bacterial meningitis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.

The renal module focuses on glomerulonephritis, nephrotic syndrome, acute and chronic renal failure, fluids and electrolytes, acid-base balance, and nephrolithiasis via written case vignettes with a strong emphasis on the underlying basic science principles.

The reproduction cases include sexual development, amenorrhea, prolactinoma, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

The respiratory cases include asthma, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV, lung cancer, and COPD.

Module 19: Trends & Topics in Medicine

Students are required to take three additional modules to round out their pre-clinical experience and prepare for the clinical rotations. Trends & Topics is a stand-alone six week course that includes case studies in behavioral medicine, legal medicine, ethics, and integrative medicine, nutrition, and preventive medicine to offer the student a well-rounded exposure to current issues facing the medical profession.

Throughout the pre-clinical modules, each student meets regularly with an academic advisor who will help direct their studies as well as assess his/her progress. Before the System-Based Modules, students will be asked to select a physician mentor. Mentors do not teach case content or biomedical theory, but offer clinical experience and advice relevant to the student’s current System-Based Module. Learn more about Student Support.

Research Requirement

Prior to graduation, all students are required to complete an original research project and to publish the results in Medical Student International, the student research journal created by OUM faculty, or a peer-reviewed journal. Students will need to identify a faculty member who is willing to oversee their research project and manuscript preparation. The research course provides 20 hours of faculty time to work with the student on the research project. Students may not commence clinical rotations until their research prospectus is approved by the Director of Research.

Journal Club

Students are required to participate in Journal Club (JC) upon enrolling in the system-based pre-clinical modules, though all students and faculty are invited to attend JC sessions. Each student must present at least one article while enrolled in the System-Based Modules and once during the clinical phase.

USMLE Step 1 and Prep Program

The pre-clinical modules are benchmarked to cover much of the content required by USMLE Step 1. After completing the twelfth and final pre-clinical 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 pre-clinical curriculum in order to help gauge their progress toward readiness for Step 1. OUM has numerous resources to help students prepare for USMLE Step 1 and, eventually, USMLE Step 2.

OUM’s USMLE Prep Program consists of the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Prep Courses. The USMLE Step 1 Prep Course is 100 days, and may not be completed sooner than this time frame, and the USMLE Step 2 Prep Course is 40 days. Students must have completed and passed all didactic courses (eFoundations Basic Sciences and System-Based Modules) to be eligible for enrollment in the USMLE Prep Program. Students must complete each USMLE Prep Course in its entirety to be eligible for the NBME exams. The NBME exams will determine a student’s readiness to sit for the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams. For students not currently enrolled in clinical rotations, they must pass USMLE Step 1 to proceed to their rotations.


Clinical Skills Course

Before progressing to the clinical phase, students must complete an 8-week Clinical Skills Course consisting of online academic instruction and a five day face-to-face practical instruction component. Students must pass this course before being permitted to begin clinical rotations.

Upon completing the pre-clinical modules, the 8-week Clinical Skills Course, and passing USMLE Step 1, OUM students become eligible to begin 72 weeks of clinical 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 Medicine12 Weeks
Surgery12 Weeks
Pediatrics8 Weeks
Obstetrics & Gynecology8 Weeks
Psychiatry4 Weeks
Emergency Medicine4 Weeks
Community Medicine8 Weeks

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.

Flexible Program

OUM’s flexible program allows students to complete the program in as few as four years, while 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.

Many OUM students continue to work and earn an income during the two years of pre-clinical years. During this time, students will study an average of 40-50 hours per week on their studies. OUM essentially becomes a second full-time job. Some students seek flexible work schedules during this time.

Flexibility allows OUM’s students to progress through the curriculum at their own pace. One of the keys to success at OUM is self-discipline and time management. OUM provides the necessary resources and support, but the student needs to secure the study time necessary to learn the material. Learn more about Student Support.