The curriculum for the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree is structured around the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) core competencies: Osteopathic Principles & Practice and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, Osteopathic Patient Care, Application of Knowledge for Osteopathic Medical Practice, Practice-Based Learning and Improvement, Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Professionalism in the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine, and Systems-Based Practice.
Year 1 instruction consists of discipline-based lectures and labs integrated around the regional anatomy studied in dissection lab. Students have block examinations every four weeks. Both first- and second-year students take Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP), Clinical Skills, and Community DOctoring. First-year OPP places emphasis on normal systems. Students have early clinical exposure in Clinical Skills, utilizing standardized patients and virtual medicine simulation robots. Community DOctoring covers ethics, community resources, spirituality in medicine, oral health, end-of-life issues, bioterrorism, and public health topics.
Year 2 consists of an application-oriented, systems-based curriculum that includes faculty-directed self-study on specific topics with specific learning objectives. The students arrive prepared for clinical interactive learning sessions (CILs) to review the material. During the CILs, students have the opportunity to answer questions based on cases presented, and to apply the knowledge they have gained. These mandatory sessions allow students to learn how successful clinicians recognize disease presentation patterns and generate differential diagnoses. The curriculum model focuses class time on utilization of knowledge rather than information acquisition. Virtual patient case presentations are available for students to improve differential diagnosis skills. Second-year students continue OPP, Clinical Skills, and Community DOctoring courses.
Year 3 and 4 Rotations
PNWU-COM has developed robust, community-based medical education training sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. PNWU-COM continues investing heavily in developing community-based training because this provides an excellent opportunity for students to be active participants in their clinical training, applying the knowledge they have acquired in the first two years. A four-week rural rotation in family medicine is required as a feature of PNWU-COM’s rural and underserved mission focus. Often, there is only one medical student at a rural site, allowing the student to have more hands-on experience than at any other location.
Regional deans and coordinators support the students at each site, set specific objectives and expectations for the students, and oversee end-of-rotation examinations. Adjunct clinical faculty members have access to faculty development and training. Many are adjunct clinical faculty at other medical schools as well.
PNWU-COM rotation requirements meet or exceed quality standards set by regional medical schools. Students train with DOs and MDs with various specialties in varied settings. The community-based medical education model provides medical students with more practical experiences relevant to their level of training and has been utilized successfully for decades around the country.
Students do not move around the Pacific Northwest from site to site for core rotations. Instead, they live in a community for up to two years. This significantly minimizes housing issues and allows the students to become part of the local fabric. Preference for sites is given to students from, or who have family in, the local area.
The third-year core rotations include family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, women's health, osteopathic principles, and behavioral medicine. The fourth year consists of emergency medicine and electives in surgery, behavioral science, and medicine, which students may schedule anywhere in the United States with the approval of the Clinical Rotations Department. Students, clinics, hospitals, and adjunct clinical faculty must fulfill stringent objectives and requirements for each rotation. Each core site has a variety of electives available. During the fourth year, students “audition” at potential residency programs of interest.
The following sites have been developed for third- and fourth-year rotations:
- Great Falls
- Portland (including Vancouver and Longview, WA)
- Mt. Vernon
- Tri-Cities and Hermiston
- Yakima and Othello
- Walla Walla