For Immediate Release: 20 January 2015

Survey Says: OUM Students are Happy and Productive

With more than two-thirds of OUM’s student body participating, the University’s fourth annual student survey shows that satisfaction levels are high and moving higher.  

On a scale of one to ten, with one being poor and ten being excellent, overall student experience was rated “good” at 7.5.  Also ranking high were the University’s responsiveness, instructors, administrators, academic advisers, and physician mentors.  For the third year in a row, OUM’s unique physician mentor program ranked the highest with an 8.9 out of ten.  

“Over the years, we have gotten some of our best ideas from our students,” says Taffy Gould, Chairman of the OUM Council and Founder of the University.  “The annual student survey is a great source of feedback and ideas for improvement.  We are constantly learning from our students.”

Likes, Dislikes, Suggestions

All respondents were required to tell OUM what they like and dislike about the program and to provide suggestions for improvement.

By far, the most frequently mentioned positive feature was flexibility and convenience (50%).  Institutional appreciation (faculty, advisers, staff, curriculum) was second (20%).  Three other attributes also were frequently mentioned:  the ability to continue working, the opportunity OUM affords them, and the online character of the program.

Dislikes were as diverse as the student body itself, with no discernible trends. The leading response (15%) was “nothing” or “nil.”  Others worried about “clinical placements” in Australia and the USA (10%) and expressed concerns about faculty (10%) and exam issues (10%).  Smaller numbers of students also reported being concerned about isolation (from other students and faculty), technical issues (mostly Clinical Key and exam proctor), and structural issues that had to do with the curriculum and modules/terms.  

“Some of the students put a lot of thought into their suggestions for improvement and went into a fair amount of detail,” says Chris Dudley, Director of Communications and Recruitment who designed and conducted the survey.  “This section is being reviewed carefully by University administration and senior faculty.”  

The highest number of suggestions (38%) had to do with curriculum and the logistics of instruction, with several suggesting earlier posting of syllabi, PowerPoints, and assignments.  Another 10 percent mentioned exams, including being able to review missed questions.  Fourteen percent suggested that OUM should increase its relationships with teaching hospitals in order to increase clinical rotations.  Ten percent said they had no suggestions.  Others (with five to nine references) made suggestions related to faculty, financial concerns (mostly tuition fees and the availability of financial aid), and improved communication with students.  Equal numbers of students felt that OUM should emphasize USMLE more or the Australian system (AMC) more.  

Clinical Key Gaining Acceptance

Ever since obtaining Clinical Key as the primary source for books and reading materials in 2012, OUM has quizzed students about their acceptance and utility.  The overall rating improved from 6.1 in 2013 to 6.9 out of ten in 2014.  

While 15 percent rated their experience with Clinical Key to be poor to fair (1-3), 62 percent of the students rated their experience as good to excellent (8-10). Given that 70 percent of the respondents matriculated to OUM within the past two years, it can be concluded that new students are adapting to Clinical Key better than earlier students.  

Focus on Physician Mentors

The 2014 survey highlighted the highly ranked physician mentor program, where a student meets weekly with a physician in his or her community.  The most frequently reported activities with students and their mentors are:

  • Discussion of current issues in healthcare and the practice of medicine:  68%

  • Discussion of OUM course material:  66%

  • Observation of patient interactions:  56%

  • Assistance with understanding of course content (tutoring):  50%

Students provided detailed information on how they work with their mentors, which will aid physician mentor training and orientation in the future.  While more than one-third of respondents said they had nothing to add or suggest, almost another third of the respondents said that they thought that the Physician Mentor program needs more structure and more specific guidelines and instructions to mentor and students.  Four said they thought that the program should not be required.

Communications and Student Engagement

Students were asked how they receive communications about the University and how they would like to communicate with the University.  Students’ top three sources for receiving information about policies and procedures and other news from the University are:

  • OUM website:  56%

  • OUM Moodle page:  56%

  • OUM Student Handbook:  48%

Nearly one-third of respondents said they were satisfied with OUM’s current communication with students or had nothing to suggest.  Ten said that e-mail is the best way to reach them.  Several suggested that there be a centralized source for news, news feed, or calendar.

When students were asked if they would be interested in attending an annual one-day face-to-face conference for OUM students (at their expense), 78 percent said “yes.”  Equal numbers in Australia and North America asked that the conference be held in their home country (annually or in alternating years), requesting programs on licensure/registration exam preparation and clinical skills preparation.  Several students suggested a multi-topic conference.  Stay tuned for details.  

e-ITM and SAC

Each year, the OUM Student Survey asks students about their experiences with the e-ITM (e-Introduction to Medicine, OUM’s 20-week first module for incoming students) and the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), which hears requests for special consideration of exceptions to policy and appeals of decisions made on student academic and disciplinary cases.  In 2014, both areas boasted some of their highest ratings and continue to improve.  

For the e-ITM, several students mentioned their favorite and least favorite instructors, while others made suggestions for how the e-ITM and e-Foundations could be structured differently.  No strong trends were noted among the student impressions and suggestions.  In comparison to previous years, e-ITM’s performance has improved and its impression on OUM’s newest students.  

There has been a significant improvement in student opinion of the workings of the Student Affairs Committee in 2014, likely due to the centralization of the regional committees into one University-wide committee.  The survey rated fairness and timeliness of SAC decisions on student cases. Two-thirds of the comments were N/A or no suggestions noted.  

The OUM Student Survey is administered annually in November to the entire student body.  While participation is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged.  Participation in previous years was 45-50 percent, but it jumped to 68 percent in 2014.  Results typically are tabulated and analyzed in December and January.  Several faculty and administrative committees have copies of the 38-page report and are incorporating student input and ideas into their plans for the development of future policies and procedures and for University-wide strategic planning.