Physician mentors are a signature component of OUM’s medical education program. Mentors do not teach case content or curriculum theory but offer clinical experience and advice relevant to the student’s current module. In short, mentors act as a student guide, coach, and role model.
The school provides materials for students to present to prospective mentors, who complete an application for review and approval by OUM’s dean. Before students may begin their second preclinical module (the first to use the distance-learning curriculum) students are required to identify and secure an approved mentor to work with throughout the remaining preclinical modules. Students are expected to meet with their mentors at least one hour per week to discuss issues arising from the problem-based learning cases, as well as to observe patient-doctor interactions, and become familiar with the local healthcare system. Each mentor must be a physician in good standing, have Internet access, and use e-mail regularly as a communication tool. Mentors receive a modest honorarium.
There are three key areas in which OUM anticipates mentors will provide positive role modeling to its student:
1. Commitment to professionalism and the physician’s role
These impressions will likely be informal, casual student observations of his or her mentor -- punctuality, proper dress, good manners, appropriate language, organizational acumen, etc. More serious discussions may also take place regarding global issues – bioethics, continuing medical education (CME), practising medicine in the face of increasing social, political and economic pressures.
2. Communicating with patients, their families, other health professionals, and colleagues
While most medical schools now run formal courses in doctor-patient communication, these classroom sessions could never replace a student’s direct observation of a mentor and his/her patient.
3. Commitment as a life-long learning professional
One of the most important messages OUM conveys to students is the need to become a life-long learner. In order to stay up-to-date, students must continue to learn throughout their careers. OUM hopes mentors will demonstrate a commitment to this principle.
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