When Wi-Fi signals and online coursework collide

By now students know that clinical rotations in Samoa offer a wealth of hands-on clinical experience and exposure to diagnoses seldom seen in other parts of the world. A less known fact, or at least less known to students who have not yet traveled to Samoa, is that spotty internet service may interfere with your studies.

Located half-way between Hawaii and New Zealand, 5,700 km/3,500 miles east of Australia, Samoa is beautiful but it has some technological and geographical challenges. Vice Chancellor Toleafoa Viali Lameko, MBBS, and others assessed student concerns and have come up with suggestions and a few accommodations that they hope will minimize disruptions for students.

“We enjoy welcoming our students to Samoa and want to ensure that this unique experience runs as smoothly as possible,” said Dr. Lameko. “We are happy to make the OUM office in Samoa available to students, but of course there are limitations. My best advice is for students to prepare in advance for their clinical rotations in Samoa.”

Plan ahead

Regardless of where they are doing clinical rotations, OUM students must be able to keep up with their readings and sit for weekly quizzes and End of Rotation exams. For students rotating in Samoa, weak internet signals add an additional challenge.

Before you leave home:

  • Download reading assignments from Clinical Key. Check your reading assignments and download the corresponding texts from Clinical Key to your laptops.  If your preference is to study from printed materials, your best bet is to print these at home before leaving for Samoa. The OUM office does not have printing facilities for student reading material. The office in Apia is available for downloading readings but be prepared to wait for a clear connection.
  • Make sure your computer is in good working order. If your computer is more than one year old, take it to a reliable computer repair shop to ensure that the download speed and other operations are working optimally. Or, if you have the expertise, do these diagnostics yourself. Computer repair in Samoa can be expensive. Samoa’s infamous slow and expensive internet connections only will be exacerbated by a less-than-optimally performing computer, as several students have discovered. Click here ( to link to more information on checking your computer’s performance and connection speeds.

In Samoa:

  • Weekly Quizzes. Students may schedule a time to go to the OUM Office in Apia to log into Proctortrack to take the weekly quiz.  Please contact the office to sign up for quiz time slots during these times:
    • Monday:  1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
    • Tuesday:  9:00 am to 12:00 noon
  • End of Rotation Exams. Students may schedule a time to go to the OUM Office in Apia to log into Proctortrack to take the End of Rotation Exam.  Please contact the office to sign up for End of Rotation exam time slots during these times:
    • Monday:  1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
    • Tuesday:  9:00 am to 11:00 am

Space is limited to four students per seating.  Exam times will be assigned on a first come, first serve basis so students are urged to plan ahead. Because of upload times, it may be necessary to leave your computer at the office while it uploads your exam.

“Students who wait until the last possible hour to take the quizzes or exams, run the risk of being interrupted by an internet outage or some other technical issue beyond our control,” said Dr Lameko.