New course format & new Director of Research

While flexibility has been a signature characteristic of OUM’s distance-learning curriculum, sometimes situations simply need the opposite – they need structure.

That will be the new Research Methodology course experience for students who enroll in January 2021 and beyond. While completion of the course has been a graduation requirement for a long time, the grade and completion of the requirement has been based solely on the student’s research manuscript.

“The goal has always been to make sure that students graduate from OUM with a good understanding of the research process, from study design and data collection through data analysis, manuscript writing, and publication submission,” says Randell Brown, PhD, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer at OUM. “That knowledge and experience with research strengthens not only residency applications, but also the understanding and ability to evaluate the ongoing flow of journal articles doctors read throughout their careers,” he says.

Students entering the University next year will have a timeline, a series of short assignments and quizzes, and a new grading scale that assesses understanding of the research process beyond writing a manuscript.

This new structure allows students to do well in the course and shows that they have learned the research process, even if their manuscript is not accepted by an external journal, says Daria Camera, PhD, OUM’s new Director of Research (see right).

“I can speak from personal experience, that there are a lot of components to research beyond writing the final paper that indicate whether or not the student understood the process,” says Dr. Camera. “As a graduate student myself, I became increasingly stressed as my research reached the writing stage. Writing simply was not one of my strengths,” she says.

Finding inspiration in Samoa

Selecting one’s research topic is always a student’s first hurdle and Samoa-based research is becoming increasingly popular, says Dr. Camera, adding that six students are currently collecting their data in Samoa.

“Two students are actually conducting their research in American Samoa,” says Dr. Camera. “One is conducting a survey-based study looking at a significant health concern in the South Pacific, Type 2 Diabetes—specifically, patient understanding of its cause and management.”

Completing the research requirement in Samoa gives students a unique opportunity to contribute to the evolving public health environment in OUM’s home country, says Dr. Camera. In fact, through their research projects, OUM students are contributing to public health data and medical discussions in many global locations. In recent years, they have conducted and published research associated with Australia, Iran, New Zealand, Nigeria, Samoa, and the USA.

(November 2020)