The clinical clerkship curriculum leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree is a 20-month program designed to educate and equip osteopathic physicians with skills necessary to enable them to enter graduate medical education programs. The curriculum is designed to support the WCUCOM mission and emphasizes primary care. In the OMS 3 and OMS 4 years of the curriculum, students learn patient care, develop clinical technical skills, and serve as members of a medical team. Students spend time with clinical faculty at regional hub sites throughout the Gulf South. A “hub site” must have at least one accredited full-service hospital and may also contain critical access hospitals, public and private clinics, and individual practitioners. Travel time between facilities within a hub site is limited to 60 minutes to minimize the amount that travel encroaches on student study time or contributes to student fatigue. Students are responsible for transportation to and from assigned rotation locations without the assistance of WCUCOM. Hub sites provide access to a library (virtual or real space), study space, sleeping space (if needed for call), computer access, and Internet access. The first 10 months of the clerkship experience occurs at a single hub site whenever possible. Basic procedures are demonstrated and practiced by students in each area of study. Students learn about the standard operating procedures of the hospital and office practice. Clerkship rotations provide increased continuity in training and offer students experience working with a variety of allied health professionals.
The OMS 4 curriculum begins with an introductory course (Advanced Clinical Integration—OMS 8000) which prepares students for the increased responsibilities and expectations that they will encounter in their OMS 4 year. This experience incorporates on-campus, hands-on OMT review, clinical simulation and professional development sessions, as well as study and review for the COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE.
In the OMS 4 year, the primary purpose of instruction is to help students apply the didactic background and preliminary clinical training received in core rotations to more intensive clinical experiences. Students are given greater patient-care responsibilities than in the OMS 3 year but remain under the direct supervision of a resident or attending physician. During this year, they are allowed to select their own curriculum. This allows the students to foster interests that have developed regarding a given specialty or to shore up areas of their knowledge that they would like to strengthen. They select 36 total weeks on rotations, a minimum of 16 weeks of rotations in medical specialties, such as cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general internal medicine, geriatrics, hematology/oncology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology, pulmonology, research, and medical critical care. Additionally, a minimum of 16 weeks of rotations must incorporate surgical specialties, such as orthopedics, ophthalmology, neurological surgery, urology, or trauma surgery. Students may elect to perform these rotations in any area of the country. As this curriculum remains unique to each individual student, course descriptions of the OMS 4 electives are not provided in the WCUCOM Student Handbook and Catalog.