Informative, timely updates – recording available on Moodle

Opened with greetings from Taffy Gould, OUM’s Founder and Chairman, the 14/15 May University-Wide Meeting featured a detailed hour of updates regarding the University’s news, policies, and activities.

Ms. Gould said she had been delighted to see so many students attending the March Student Conference in Melbourne, AU – together with so many new doctors graduating. She also stressed with students the importance of asking for help “whenever and wherever you need it,” a sentiment reinforced by Vice Chancellor Viali Lameko, MBBS, MPH (PhD Candidate).

“From Taffy and leadership to faculty and advisors, we are here to help our students. We are all here to make sure you realize your dreams to become physicians and medical officers in the future,” he said.

Dr. Lameko reported that 14 students are currently completing clinical rotations in Samoa – 25 have rotated since the beginning of the year. He added that two interns began postgraduate training at TTM Hospital in January with two more expected to start this month. Most of these interns are supported by the Samoan Ministry of Health program to strengthen the number of physicians practicing in Samoa and all of Oceania. He reminded students that while emphasis may be on local residents, the Ministry accepts applications and considers individuals from all countries.

It was also announced that OUM will be working more closely with the Western Pacific Association for Medical Education (WPAME). The WPAME is a partner organization of the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) which works with the World Health Organization (WHO) to enhance the quality of medical education worldwide, including the establishment of accreditation standards. OUM recently attended the WFME conference in Korea to learn and prepare for the new accreditation requirements coming up over the next few years.

Updates were provided by Randell Brown, PhD, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Director of Research, by two of OUM’s Regional Deans—Australia’s (Meshach Kirubakaran, MBBS, MD) and North America’s (Sarmad Ghazi, MBChB)—as well as by Paula Diamante, MD, Director of Faculty Affairs, and Chris Dudley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration and Student Affairs.

Research Timeline: While Dr. Brown referenced the integration of Zoom into OUM’s curriculum delivery and the adjustment to exam windows (discussed at length later by Chris Dudley), he focused his discussion on the importance of a timely approach to the required research project.

“While we currently have a high percentage of students involved in their research and we have graduates during the last few months who have had impressive manuscripts accepted for publication, we have students in their final SBMs yet to begin their projects,” said Dr. Brown, reminding attendees that this is a graduation requirement for MD students.

Since delays in completing research have resulted in delayed graduation dates, the Academic Board has revised the requirement for those matriculating in Term 1904 and forward: Students must have their research prospectus written and approved before they are able to begin clinical rotations. Dr. Brown went on to say that while this new change does not impact current students and their progress into clinicals, they should keep in mind that the research process can be lengthy, depending on the project, so he advised against waiting too long to begin.

By the numbers: Dr. Meshach presented an interesting snapshot of what OUM’s Australian students are accomplishing, from completing rotations in global locations to attendance at the first face-to-face Advanced Clinical Skills Course. In addition to these statistics, he reported on the successful March Student Conference highlighting the new, popular OSCE session and the 14 graduates. He added that the next OSCE, for which eight OUM students are preparing, will be on 27 July. Early December is when 2019’s final OSCE is planned.

Getting stronger: Dr. Ghazi provided an overview of clinical rotation sites in North America, noting that while most rotations are being completed at Southern Texas Health System in McAllen, Texas, or Jackson Park Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, students are also rotating in Baltimore, Maryland and Houston, Texas. He also discussed the recent technology updates which have taken place with Zoom, Proctortrack, Moodle, and Clinical Key. “OUM is strong and its reputation is getting stronger, resulting in more student referrals and more applicants,” said Dr. Ghazi, who chairs the Admissions Committee.

Faculty Training: Dr. Diamante shared that all faculty recently participated in a three- or four-day seminar sponsored by the International Association of Medical Science Education. Topics included

  • the changing role of the basic science instructor,
  • the application of basic sciences during the clinical years,
  • development and changes to the USMLE, and
  • the use of technology in the classroom.

Three new teaching faculty have joined OUM since the last University-Wide Meeting and Dr. Diamante gave an overview of the mandatory training new instructors go through at OUM. In addition, four new research advisors have joined the faculty, to provide additional support with the Research Requirement, and five new clinical advisors have come on board for the Australian students.

Dr. Diamante reported that students are doing well on the End-of-Rotation Exams launched over the past year. To assure continued success, she advised students to

  • work with your clinical advisors to prepare for your exams;
  • review course material and quizzes – let them guide you into the areas where you may need work; and
  • follow the course objectives found in the syllabus as another guide.

Administrative Initiatives: Highlights to a long list of administrative projects and updates presented by Chris Dudley included:

  • Student Handbook updates are in the final phase and coming out this month. Apologies were offered for the delay.
  • Downloading Clinical Lectures prior to leaving for rotations was a request from OUMSA that has been fairly simple to accommodate. In some international sites, students may find spotty or expensive Internet connections – which this addresses. The process is being finalized – there will be a form to complete, acknowledging that the material is copyrighted and won’t be sold or used inappropriately. Watch the Moodle Newsfeed for details.
  • Student Directory is now available in eOUM. You can find the directory at the blue and white icon in eOUM’s top page navigation.
  • Converting Blackboard Collaborate Lectures to MP4 has been a huge project, now complete. While we record all lectures as delivered in Zoom, this gives us two-years of lectures as a back-up.
  • LBJ Tropical Medical Center in American Samoa is no longer a clinical rotation site. The split was amicable between the parties. The hospital simply does not have the infrastructure in place for a teaching hospital, especially core rotations, which accreditors could question. OUM’s American Samoan students will continue to be honored, through the completion of their training.
  • New Exam Windows have been established. Thank you to the 60+ percent of the student body who responded to surveys and inquiries about the topic. One new window has been set for eFoundation 100 and 300 courses and two windows have been established for SBM exams. See new times in the full Exam Window story. These will strengthen the integrity of the exams and make them more in line with accreditation and licensing organization standards.
  • New University Policies/Academic Board Resolutions are always reported in detail in the OUM News student newsletters which publish on “even” months (February, April, June, August, October, December). The Academic Board story in the April issue discussed dividing the clinical skills module, the post-graduate USMLE Step 1 policy, and the amended Research Requirement timeline for Term 1904 enrollees and beyond.
  • Welcome to new Student Representatives on the Academic Board – Heather Grant, first-year from the US and Patrick Mill, second-year from AU. They take over for fourth-year students Robert Duprey (US) and Matthew Stewart (AU) who have finished their terms and are about to graduate. The Academic Board has student representatives from North America and Australasia, as well as a graduate representative, currently Wendy Chen, MD, Class of 2017.

Accreditation Preparation: “In addition, we are ‘up to our eyeballs’ in preparation for re-accreditation. We are currently in the documentation phase and site visits will take place in 2020,” explained Dudley. The documentation phase involves a self-study in nine areas of the University, each led by a member of the faculty or administration: Mission & Objectives, Faculty, Curriculum & Instruction, Clinical Teaching/Service Facilities, Research, Students, Library, Administration, and Facilities & Other Resources. Each group has representatives from faculty, administration, students, and graduates looking at the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities associated with their assigned area. Past self-study documentation, once presented to PAASCU* has totaled over 1000 pages of information, he added.

“The goal is obviously to determine how to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate threats,” Dudley said. “Areas are working on the first drafts of their respective self-studies and OUM will present the completed/combined document to PAASCU in late August/mid-September. Dr. Lameko, Dr. Brown, and I will go to the Philippines in January to meet with the site visit team to plan next year’s visits to Samoa/ANZ (March) and North America (July).”

He advised that all students, regardless of whether or not they are on a committee, are encouraged to share ideas or suggestions. “If you have a curriculum idea, share it with Dr. Cunningham or Tom Ignatius. If you have a research suggestion, send it to Abimbola Farinde or to Dr. Brown.”

OUMSA: Closing out the meeting was Tom Dalton, third-year student and newly-elected president of the OUM Student Association (OUMSA). He shared the names of his colleague officers, noting that while he and another board member are new, the other three are returning officers, which provides good continuity of leadership. Tom shared the organization’s goals and the tangible/non-tangible benefits OUMSA members earn as part of an international chapter of AMSA, the American Medical Student Association, which include discounts on travel, test prep, educational supplies, and more.

“OUMSA aims to be a conduit and unified voice of representation between students and University administration,” Tom said. Meetings are typically around the last weekend of each month and are announced in the Moodle Newsfeed.

The May University-Wide Meeting finished right on schedule after one hour, in time for students to get to class. The next meeting will likely take place in mid- to late-September.

Those unable to attend the live event are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the recorded meeting found here and in the University-Wide Meeting classroom in Moodle.

*Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities