OUWB – A flawed curriculum?

Today’s inane image of the day:

Hey Class of 2016, here are the USB flash drives you’ll be receiving in August with your laptops – I had to box each and every one of them for you…

I received the following comment from an Anonymous poster on my entry, “A bump along the road to summer“:

Hi Amanda, Great blog! You are obviously a really bright student. I know you’ve had to do some re-mediation of course work at OU. Do you feel there is a flaw with the curriculum at OU? You seem way too smart to have to re-mediate any work, especially a clinical diagnosis type write up. Does OU “fail” a certain amount of students per block? Thanks for the input! Hope you are enjoying the summer.

Since I thought that this posed an interesting set of questions, I decided my response warranted an entire blog entry. 

First, OUWB does not have a quota of students that it needs to fail for each course. This ultimately works in our favor since it fosters an environment of collaboration and teamwork. If we all do well, we all pass [I do believe there was an Anatomy practical exam where the entire class passed]. However, because the bar to pass is set relatively high [usually 70%], this isn’t necessarily an easy feat and there tend to be a couple of students who just barely miss the mark. That is where exam remediation comes into play.

I’ve noted this before, but I’ll repeat it once again – exam remediation does not equal course remediation. It does not appear on your permanent record or your transcript. Essentially, it acts like a second chance to prove that you know the material. The only thing setting it apart from the first pass is that even if you score within the “Honors” range in your remediated exam, you cannot receive that grade since you failed the exam the first time around.

Keep in mind that I have only needed to remediate exams, not courses

Second, I had my concerns about the curriculum when the academic year had just started – it seemed harsh that students who had earned enough points to pass a course had to re-take an entire examination if they just barely failed. However, the reality is that most things only make sense when considered retrospectively; making every exam high-stakes prepares us for the concept that every assessment counts and ensures that whatever weaknesses we might have had are addressed immediately. My experience failing and remediating an exam in BFCP forced me to review the subjects that I was weak in [e.g. Microbiology, Anatomy, Immunology] and made sure that I was truly competent. And looking back, I definitely remember the microbes I reviewed for that exam.

Did failing a couple exams send me spiraling down a path of self-doubt? Yes. Did they seem to add stress to an already stressful situation? Yes. But did it help me feel more confident in the material? Absolutely. 

Third, if the question was more along the lines of, Do you think that you weren’t taught the material well enough and that’s why you failed? Well, this is a difficult question to answer. We haven’t had an exam where the majority of the class failed, and most of our averages have been relatively high. This leads me to believe that most of the class is learning the material somehow.

So what happened in my personal case?

The short answer: a lot of things. I tend to procrastinate on studying by dedicating time to extracurriculars [e.g. this blog, AMWA, etc]. I am also lazy when it comes to memorizing things. This combination, along with the fact that I attended every single lecture during the M1 year [i.e. I didn’t have as much white space to study as those of my peers that may have missed some class] didn’t quite set me up for success. However, I’ve learned over the course of the year how to prioritize, memorize and utilize my time in class. Overall, I feel like I’ve come a pretty long way since last August.

Do I think OUWB has a flawed curriculum? No. Do I think that we still need to work out some of the kinks like essentially every other medical school? Yes. In the end, there will always be aspects of a school that could be improved, but if the LCME put its stamp of approval on a school, then I trust that it will graduate competent physicians.

Anyway, I hope this answered your question. As always, please feel free to post a follow-up if I didn’t quite hit the spot!

[And I am indeed enjoying my summer! I hope all of you are, too!]

6 thoughts on “OUWB – A flawed curriculum?

  • June 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    how long does it take to get your scores back? do you get to review your test to see what you got right-wrong?

  • June 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Do your classmates and you get to use the simulation center whenever you want?

  • June 18, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I’m not 100% sure if you’re referring to the Clinical Skills Center (Troy Beaumont) or the Surgical Learning Center (Royal Oak Beaumont), however both aren’t necessarily “open” for use. We have our Art and Practice of Medicine course in the Clinical Skills Center and we’ve had a couple of hands-on sessions in the Surgical Learning Center [for example, we did a suturing workshop there and we also did an emergency department simulation]. Additionally, our various interest groups held workshops for us in the Surgical Learning Center. So basically… the spaces can be reserved, but available whenever [plus, I can’t really think of a situation during M1 that we’d really need those venues to practice].

  • June 18, 2012 at 12:51 am

    It depends on the exam – first semester, since they were in-house exams [not NBME], we generally got our raw scores back by the end of the day [keep in mind that I said “raw” – there is a chance to review your exam and challenge questions later on that many on-the-border individuals relied on in order to pass… myself included]. Now that we’ve moved over to NBME exams for our organ systems it takes a couple of days and we *do not* have the chance to review the exam [these questions are protected like gold]. However, we do receive a personalized score report that lists specific subject matters [e.g. Pharmacology, Anatomy, Microbiology, etc] and how well we did compared to the rest of the class.

  • June 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Since students have to be in Troy, Royal Oak and Rochester, where do most students live?

  • June 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Students definitely live across Oakland county, but I’d say the majority of our class lives near Rochester since we spend the bulk of our time on OU’s campus for our preclinical years [M1/M2]. However, a couple of people live in Troy and Royal Oak and many are planning on moving down to Royal Oak prior to starting clerkships.

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