Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the annual start dates for the program?

Incoming MD students in the USA begin the program with the intensive basic science blocks.  In 2017, the second entering class begins in August (Application Deadline is March 1, 2017). For 2018, the first entering class begins in early February (Application Deadline is September 1, 2017). Application deadlines for any year are September 1 for the February term and March 1 for the August term. 

2. How does the program work?

The program is a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, which is typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years. Because the OUM program is flexible, students may take longer if they need extended time for work or family matters, but a minimum of 24 weeks of instruction must be completed each year.

The program begins with nine four-week intensive basic science blocks, nine six-week system-based modules, a research methodology module and a clinical skills course. All preclinical modules are taught in OUM's virtual classroom technologies that enable students to complete preclinical study from their own communities. Preclinical modules are followed by 72 weeks of clinical training learning hands-on patient care in a teaching hospital, identical to traditional medical school settings.

Preclinical Studies

Designed and supervised by leading American and Australian medical professors, instruction is presented through problem-based case studies - even during preclinical courses - rather than lengthy lectures about physiology or biochemistry in a full auditorium with little chance for interaction.

Many US medical schools have adapted their curricula to problem-based learning. This method uses a detailed patient scenario to present medical issues and problems that students work through to diagnose and treat, while at the same time, learning about the basic medical sciences that are pertinent to the disease or medical condition. For example, an asthma case would take students through diagnosis and treatment, then the physiology of respiration, the chemistry of how various treatments interact with the body, the anatomy of the lungs, and such subjects.

Students utilize weekly cases and "meet" regularly with online instructors and classmates for lectures and discussion, to complete assignments, and work through key learning objectives. Part-time students independently research assignments, typically spending 40 hours or more per week, covering required case readings, preparing for/participating in small group discussions and virtual classroom sessions, and making summarized notes for exam preparation. Individual, real-time chat sessions may be arranged, as needed, with your instructor. Additionally, some students form study groups, both online and in-person when geographically feasible. OUM makes time available in its virtual classrooms for students to meet and interact.

Each student meets with an academic advisor on a weekly basis to monitor and assess student performance. The advisor ensures that the student understands the concepts in the learning material and offers advice such as extra reading assignments to enhance student performance.

A quiz is taken at the end of each weekly case, and a summative examination is given at the end of each module.

For a minimum of one hour each week, students are also required to meet face-to-face with a physician mentor in their community. The mentor does not teach but acts as a coach and role model, answering clinical questions and discussing non-academic issues associated with the practice of medicine, such as professionalism, motivation, and compassion. Each student is responsible for the selection of his/her own mentor, supported by OUM materials prepared for presentation to prospects. The Dean approves each prospective mentor.

Clinical Rotations

Halfway through the program, upon passing the USMLE Step 1, clinical rotations are arranged and taken at teaching hospitals, as they are in traditional medical schools. During the 56 weeks of core rotations, students are assigned to the clinical supervisor at an OUM affiliated teaching facility to complete clinical rotation training. Together with the on-site work, students complete PBL cases, directed learning activities, listen to lectures, and sit for an examination for each core clerkship. Students may explore their career options during the 16 weeks of elective rotations in every area from anesthesiology to urology. Clinical students will have an opportunity to train in both ambulatory and in-patient hospital settings. Students must pass USMLE Step 2 (Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills) before graduation.

MD students are required to publish a research paper in Medical Student International, the student research journal started by OUM faculty, or a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation. The research methodology module provides the student with a research advisor to help guide them through the process.

The OUM curriculum is a demanding program, suited only to those who are self-motivated and disciplined to independently meet program requirements and deadlines. 

3. May I continue my career while taking the OUM courses?

Yes, during the first half of the curriculum, but not during the final nine terms (clinical rotations). The opportunity for students to work a full schedule during the first two years (preclinical terms, 1-12) is one feature that sets OUM apart from a traditional medical school setting. For part-time students who continue working during the first 12 modules, a commitment of approximately 40-50 hours per week is required for research, study, class attendance, and meetings with one’s advisor and mentor. During these preclinical terms, students typically revise and reduce their work schedules to prepare for the last two years of clinical clerkship training. Once the clinical clerkships begin, the schedule of an OUM student is the same as that of any medical student -- subject to the uncertainties of hospital and physician scheduling -- and requiring 24/7 availability in order to complete clinical rotations and maximize the experience.

4. How long does it take to complete the MD program?

OUM was created to help individuals pursue their dream of becoming a physician without having to quit their jobs or leave family and friends for extended periods of time.  The program is a full-scale, rigorous medical school curriculum, which is typically completed in four-and-a-half to five years. Because the OUM program is flexible, students may take longer if they need extended time for work or family matters, but a minimum of 24 weeks of instruction must be completed each year.

Flexibility allows OUM’s students to progress through the curriculum at their own pace.  Only OUM has an MD program that allows healthcare professionals to continue working during the preclinical years. Part-time students should be able to graduate within five to six years,  For full-time students—OUM’s MD program may be completed in as few as four years, as the student is able to study the requisite 80-100 hours per week that successful students in a traditional medical school need to fully absorb the material.

5. Can I get into a residency program in the US or Canada?

Yes, OUM has several alumni in post-graduate training programs. Our students are eligible to apply for US residency programs through the National Residency Match Program upon satisfactory completion of their USMLE Step 2. Certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is also a requirement, both to begin a residency and to obtain a medical license in many US states. That certification process begins when students first apply to take the USMLE Step 1 and finishes upon verification of OUM graduation. For more information, visit ECFMG's website at www.ecfmg.org.

6. Can I practice in my state?

Most likely. In addition to being accredited, Oceania University of Medicine is listed in the World Health Organization's World Directory of Medical Schools and the International Medical Education Directory and is recognized by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Students and graduates of schools noted by these authorities, who have passed the necessary USMLE, are eligible to apply for licensure in many US states. OUM has surveyed all 50 US states, and though each state has its own regulations for licensing physicians, many have already indicated that OUM meets their requirements. Some states are reserving judgment until more graduates apply for their licenses, saying that if the graduate has passed the USMLE and has met other residency requirements, licensure should not be a problem. Recalling correspondence schools of long ago, some states do not yet recognize distance-learning in medical education. Since many of the world's leading medical schools now have computer-assisted instruction and distance-learning courses in their curricula, the University is confident that its accreditation, together with the success its students are experiencing in the USMLE and residencies, means more states will look favorably upon a distance-learning curriculum. Regardless of the institution one attends, medical school graduation does not assure that a medical license will be issued. That action is ultimately a regulatory matter decided upon by states.

We recommend that all applicants check with their state licensing authorities before enrolling at OUM or any other international medical school. Students and applicants can access the website of each state's medical licensing board through the Federation of State Medical Boards at www.fsmb.org.

7. How do the clinical rotations work? Can I get one near my home?

Students have three options for clinical rotations: a) complete clinical rotations at a regional accredited teaching hospital formally affiliated with OUM; or b) OUM will work with students to seek clinical rotations at an accredited teaching hospital that is geographically convenient.

In order to qualify for a reputable residency-training program, students planning to practice in the US ideally should do rotations at a teaching hospital that has postgraduate training programs (residencies/fellowships) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). At the teaching hospital, students should work side-by-side with students from other medical schools on clinical activities established by the host hospital. During this portion of the curriculum, OUM will also provide students with case assignments and other relevant curriculum materials that support and enhance the clinical rotation. OUM cannot guarantee that a student will find clinical rotations near his/her home, but rotations are available at regional centers throughout the United States.

8. How does the local mentor work? Do you find the mentor for me?

Your local physician mentor is your guide to the practice of medicine. You will meet with him or her for at least one hour each week to discuss your studies and other medical practice issues. You may even have an opportunity to tag along on rounds or to shadow the doctor, dependent upon patient approval. You are responsible for finding a mentor in your community and securing approval from OUM. Materials are provided for you to approach prospective mentors. Students may not begin their system-based modules without an approved mentor, so it is recommended that you secure your mentor early in your e-ITM course in order to allow sufficient time to process his/her credentials. OUM provides an honorarium and guidelines for the mentor relationship.

9. Iíve been to medical school. Do I have to take the preclinical courses again?

OUM cannot offer advance standing, for several reasons: a) Our program is case-based so it would be impossible to isolate which courses you may have had and which you have not; b) If you have been out of school for 10-15 years, you are going to need the basic science review to pass USMLE; c) Some students who have attended Caribbean medical programs that offer advanced standing, after investing the time and money, have been denied medical licensure in certain states. If you're looking for a school with this option, OUM is not for you. Be diligent about understanding your state's requirements regarding advanced standing or credit for previous training. The advantage that your prior education will give you at OUM is that these past studies should make learning the material easier for you. Also check with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (www.ecfmg.org). In order to receive your certification upon graduation, which all graduates of foreign medical schools need to practice in the US, you need to spend four years in medical school. Please contact the OUM admissions office for details

10. How are gross anatomy and other lab courses taught on-line?

Many medical schools are moving away from cadaver laboratory work toward high-quality electronic teaching material. Many medical school accrediting bodies now acknowledge that laboratory exercises may be "real or simulated." There are several computer models today that accurately simulate the body, often with better views than you would see in an anatomy class. The US National Institutes of Health developed many of the most popular and accurate models that are used in online instruction.

In addition to gross anatomy, a good portion of laboratory work involves acquiring skills to collect and analyze raw data from graphs, blood work, and other pathological results. To develop these skills, OUM students receive simulated lab assignments during the course of each preclinical module that are completed and posted for online discussion with the instructor and classmates. While most assignments test physiological theory, others explore interpretation of clinical concepts in order to build and strengthen diagnostic skills.

11. What are the admissions requirements?

US and Canadian applicants need a bachelor's degree or equivalent with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and at least one year of college chemistry. The MCAT is not required, as OUM’s curriculum features the basic sciences needed for success in medical school.

OUM selects students that it believes will successfully complete the rigorous and demanding OUM medical degree. The admissions decision is based on academic success, test scores, healthcare experience where applicable, letters of recommendation, and the interview.

12. Do I have to take the MCAT?

The MCAT is not required, as OUM’s curriculum features all of the basic sciences needed for success in medical school.

13. What kind of financial aid is available?

Because OUM has significantly reduced its tuition fees, scholarships and loans from the University are not available. The University will work with private scholarship and lending sources to assist students finding their own funding. To ease the burden of tuition payments, OUM has created payment plans. See the Financial Aid page for more detail

14. Are OUM students eligible for US Federal loans and grants?

OUM has been accredited by the Philippine Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities, an agency recognized by the US Department of Education’s National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation. The University is now in the process of meeting requirements to gain approval for loan eligibility for its students. Students should check banks and other student lending sources, as accreditation is a major requirement for loans from those sources.

15. What types of students do you have enrolled in the program?

OUM’s flexible program appeals to a wide variety of students—from recent college graduates, to working professionals interested in changing careers. The distance-learning component is attractive to many nurse practitioners, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists, physician assistants, pharmacists, paramedics, respiratory therapists, podiatrists, and other healthcare professionals. In addition, OUM has some students with non-science backgrounds such as business, accounting, art, and information technology.

16. How have OUM students performed on USMLE and other standardized licensing exams?

Since OUM is a young school, a relatively small number of students have completed the required coursework and taken their respective licensing exams. OUM’s first American graduates have completed their residencies, have passed USMLE Step 3, and are practicing in Arizona, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia.  More recent American graduates have passed USMLE Steps 1 & 2 and are completing residencies in US teaching hospitals in many additional states.

OUM’s Australian and New Zealand graduates have passed either USMLE, Australian Medical Council exams, or the New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREZ) and are completing internships and post-graduate training.  More students are scheduled to take both the Step 1 and Step 2 exams, and they are expected to perform as well as their predecessors have done.

17. Where are OUMís graduates practicing?

OUM has produced 66 graduates. Those physicians are currently completing residency training or already practicing in their home countries of Australia, Samoa, and the US. Several additional students have graduated in 2014 and have begun postgraduate training.

18. May I speak with some current students?

OUM sponsors monthly “Meet the Student” and “Meet the Graduate” sessions for prospective students to interact live with current students and graduates.  Check the Special Events page for details on the next session.  Though our students are extremely busy with their studies, work and family demands, it may be possible to arrange a private conversation, depending on their availability, the best way to initiate conversation is through e-mail, and the two of you can arrange a telephone appointment, if you choose. If you provide your e-mail address to your OUM admissions counselor, s/he will try to arrange it.

19. Will I have to travel to Samoa?

All students matriculating to OUM after 2011 are required to complete at least one four-week clinical rotation in Samoa or American Samoa.  Students should apply for the Samoa rotation at least six months in advance through their regional dean.  Other than the required rotation, it is not necessary for the student to attend class in Samoa, though additional clinical rotations may be arranged with advance notice.

20. Am I eligible to practice medicine in Samoa after graduation?

Yes, in fact, OUM's Samoan scholarship recipients are required to serve the country's health system for four years. Citizens from other countries wishing to practice medicine in Samoa must meet the country's immigration requirements and successfully apply to the Samoan Ministry of Health. In fact, being eligible to practice in a foreign medical school’s home country helps to meet US licensing requirements in some states. Again, students and prospective students are advised to check with their respective state licensing boards for specific information.

21. How old is the school? How many students?

The school was founded in 2002, in close collaboration with the Samoan government, so its future is secure. The program began by making sure that the computer-assisted curriculum worked well before opening it to large numbers of students. The school deliberately started small and currently has 150 students enrolled worldwide. OUM is selective about the students it accepts, making certain they have the self-motivation and discipline necessary to complete the course.

22. Is your program accredited in the US?

American accreditation authorities do not accredit non-US medical schools. OUM earned its accreditation in 2010 from the Philippine Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), which is an international accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education’s National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation. Since the US government has established that PAASCU evaluates institutions in the manner in which US schools are reviewed, OUM is considered comparable to those accredited in the US.

23. How does the licensing process work?

Matriculation in OUM qualifies you to sit for the three-part United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Students must pass these examinations in order to become a licensed physician. Step 1 is taken between the completion of preclinical courses and the start of clinical rotations to ensure that students have a working knowledge of the basic sciences before entering clinical training to begin working with patients. Most US teaching hospitals require students to have passed USMLE Step 1 before beginning clinical clerkships.

The two-part Step 2 examinations also feature a clinical skills assessment, usually taken upon completion of core rotations. Passage of these exams ensures that the student has the necessary clinical knowledge and patient care skills to begin an internship or residency program under the supervision of an attending physician. At OUM, passage of Step 1 and Step 2 are graduation requirements for students who plan to practice in the US.

To help its students excel on the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams, OUM academic advisors begin familiarizing students with valuable exam preparation early in their preclinical study. Advisors make available to students a variety of resources, including summaries that bring together elements from the first 12 modules, study aids, exam-taking strategies, and USMLE Step 1 practice questions. There are also many good outside review courses available and the school’s academic advisors work with interested students to identify the one most appropriate for their learning styles.

The Step 3 examination is given as students finish their first year of residency, to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills needed to practice medicine independently. For students of non-US medical schools, the ECFMG facilitates the USMLE Step 3 exam in a location and time arranged directly with the student. For more information about the USMLE, visit www.usmle.org and/or www.ecfmg.org.

Since each US state is responsible for licensing its own physicians, prospective students should check with their state medical board or other physician licensing authority to ensure that they will meet requirements. For more information, visit the Federation of State Medical Boards website at www.fsmb.org.