New course is alternative for students anxious to begin rotations in Samoa

A new intensive four-week Clinical Skills Course will allow students to get started with their clinical rotations in Samoa without having to wait for a space in OUM’s 12-week Internal Medicine Clerkship. The new four-week clinical skills training option was an Academic Board response to students who want to begin core rotations in Samoa but have not been able to complete the mandatory eight-week clinical skills course.

The Internal Medicine (IM) rotation in Samoa currently includes all the elements of OUM’s mandatory eight-week Clinical Skills Course required of students who enrolled between Term 1601 and 1704. (Although not required for students who enrolled prior to 1601, the eight-week course is recommended for those students as it will prepare them well for future rotations.) Students who begin their rotations with the IM Clerkship in Samoa are able to waive that eight-week clinical skills course requirement. This has made the IM Clerkship in Samoa a very popular first rotation – creating a backlog.

“We currently have a considerable wait time for the 12-week Internal Medicine Clerkship in Samoa because students found it convenient to meet the eight-week clinical skills requirement by beginning their Samoa rotations with the IM clerkship,” says OUM Vice Chancellor Dr. Viali Lameko, who oversees the IM Clerkship at Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) Hospital in Samoa. “Since clinical skills are required before starting any rotation, students who are on the wait list for the IM clerkship are having to put their other Samoa rotations on hold. This intensive four-week course gives students the necessary skills to begin a Samoa rotation other than Internal Medicine. ”

More access to Samoa clerkships

The new four-week Clinical Skills Course in Samoa is primarily for Australia and New Zealand students who have no other options for the hands-on clinical skills course that must be completed before a student begins his/her rotations. Students in North America have the option of an intensive two-week clinical skills course in Chicago or Houston.

The intensive two-week courses in Chicago and Houston, and the new four-week course in Samoa, are NOT a substitute for the required comprehensive eight-week clinical skills course, or the Day One Clinical Skills Course for enrollees after 1801. The 12-week Internal Medicine Clerkship in Samoa will continue to count toward the clinical skills requirement if it is a student’s first rotation. However, if the first available IM clerkship is four terms away, a student may take the new four-week clinical skills course, and then complete other Samoa rotations before beginning IM in Samoa. In this scenario, the four-week clinical skills course also may serve as one of the student’s elective rotations.

Enrollment in the four-week Clinical Skills Course in Samoa is limited to a minimum of four, and a maximum of six, students. If a course is full, the overflow enrollment will be considered for the next class. Likewise, if the minimum enrollment is not met, students will be included in the next class.

Hands-on exposure

Students are required to enroll in the four-week course prior to beginning any core clinical rotation in Samoa, unless the 12-week Internal Medicine Clerkship in Samoa is their first rotation. The four-week Clinical Skills Course in Samoa will meet the OUM requirement to complete four weeks of clinical rotations in Samoa, though this option is not recommended for students who intend to match for residency at a US teaching hospital after graduation.

“Each of the clinical rotations in Samoa is very hands-on and a great experience for our students,” says Dr. Lameko. “We want to make sure students are prepared for their rotations, but we realize it is not feasible to have every student begin their Samoa experience with the IM Clerkship. The four-week Clinical Skills Course will hopefully allow more Australia and New Zealand students to take advantage of the Samoa opportunity without having to wait for the next available IM rotation.”

Dr. Lameko explains that instruction in the four-week course will be six hours per day, three days per week. On the other two working days per week, students will rotate with the Internal Medicine students. He expects that students will spend more than 36 hours per week practicing their clinical skills on each other and on real patients. Upon completion, students should be comfortable with important basic skills including IV cannulation, phlebotomy, and insertion of nasal/ gastric tubes and suturing.

What the four-week Clinical Skills Course is not

To recap, in the interest of clarity, the four-week Clinical Skills Course in Samoa is not:

  • A substitute for the requirement of the eight-week Clinical Skills Course for students who matriculated to OUM between terms 1601 and 1704;
  • A substitute for the Day-One Clinical Skills Course for students who enter in Term 1801 and beyond;
  • An additional cost to the total tuition fees that students pay to attend OUM, as it may be counted toward the 16-week elective requirement;
  • Necessary for students taking IM as their first rotation in the clinical phase;
  • Required for students who have completed most of their core rotations and only will be undertaking a four-week elective in Samoa to fulfill their graduation requirement. Dr. Lameko will make a final determination for students in this case;
  • Recommended for American students, who should take most of their core rotations at US teaching hospitals if they expect to go through residency match.

What you need to know

  • All students, regardless of date of matriculation, planning on completing core rotations in Samoa will either have to commence with the 12-week IM or the four-week clinical course.
  • The first four-week Clinical Skills Course in Samoa is targeted to be taught in Term 1901. Students interested in enrolling should contact Joe Korac or Philip Sherman.