The program is a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years. Because the OUM program is flexible, students may take longer if they need extended time for work or family matters, but a minimum of 24 weeks of instruction must be completed each year.
The curriculum is divided into two main phases: pre-clinical and clinical. The pre-clinical phase, offered online, is preceded by a 12-week Introduction to Medicine prep course. The pre-clinical program begins with nine six-week intensive basic science blocks, nine six-week system-based modules, a research methodology module and a clinical skills course. All pre-clinical modules are taught with OUM’s virtual classroom technologies, enabling students to complete pre-clinical studies from their own communities. Preclinical modules are followed by 72 weeks of clinical training learning hands-on patient care in a teaching hospital, identical to traditional medical school settings.
Designed and supervised by leading American and Australian medical professors, instruction is presented through problem-based case studies – even during pre-clinical courses – rather than lengthy lectures about physiology or biochemistry in a full auditorium with little chance for interaction.
Many US medical schools have adapted their curricula to problem-based learning. This method uses a detailed patient scenario to present medical issues and problems that students work through to diagnose and treat, while at the same time, learning about the basic medical sciences that are pertinent to the disease or medical condition. For example, an asthma case would take students through diagnosis and treatment, then the physiology of respiration, the chemistry of how various treatments interact with the body, the anatomy of the lungs, and such subjects.
Students utilize weekly cases and “meet” regularly with online instructors and classmates for lectures and discussion, to complete assignments, and work through key learning objectives. Part-time students independently research assignments, typically spending 40 hours or more per week, covering required case readings, preparing for/participating in small group discussions and virtual classroom sessions, and making summarized notes for exam preparation. Individual, real-time chat sessions may be arranged, as needed, with your instructor. Additionally, some students form study groups, both online and in-person when geographically feasible. OUM makes time available in its virtual classrooms for students to meet and interact.
Each student meets with an academic advisor on a weekly basis to monitor and assess student performance. The advisor ensures that the student understands the concepts in the learning material and offers advice such as extra reading assignments to enhance student performance.
A quiz is taken at the end of each weekly case, and a summative examination is given at the end of each module.
For a minimum of one hour each week, students are also required to meet face-to-face with a physician mentor in their community. The mentor does not teach but acts as a coach and role model, answering clinical questions and discussing non-academic issues associated with the practice of medicine, such as professionalism, motivation, and compassion. Each student is responsible for the selection of his/her own mentor, supported by OUM materials prepared for presentation to prospects. The Dean approves each prospective mentor.
Halfway through the program, upon passing the USMLE Step 1, clinical rotations are arranged and taken at teaching hospitals, as they are in traditional medical schools. During the 56 weeks of core rotations, students are assigned to the clinical supervisor at an OUM affiliated teaching facility to complete clinical rotation training. Together with the on-site work, students complete PBL cases, directed learning activities, listen to lectures, and sit for an examination for each core clerkship. Students may explore their career options during the 16 weeks of elective rotations in every area from anesthesiology to urology. Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient hospital settings. Students must pass USMLE Step 2 (Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills) before graduation.
MD students are required to publish a research paper in Medical Student International, the student research journal started by OUM faculty, or a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation. The research methodology module provides the student with a research advisor to help guide them through the process.
The OUM curriculum is a demanding program, suited only to those who are self-motivated and disciplined to independently meet program requirements and deadlines.