at the School of Osteopathic Medicine
photography by john emerson
Located on a modern campus in southern New Jersey, minutes from center city Philadelphia, SOM offers a four-year program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. First stop: the centerpiece of the campus called the Academic Center, a three-story, 110,000 square foot building that houses the library, anatomy lab, classrooms, lounge, services, cafeteria and wellness center. Other spots to visit: the 74,000 square foot Science Center, featuring laboratories and facilities used for leading-edge research and experimentation; and the 54,000 square foot University Education Center and 120,000 square foot University Doctors Pavilion, housing the clinical departments.
An emphasis on primary care and community health services reflects the school’s osteopathic philosophy; students have patient contact beginning in their first year. A simulated patient lab program and small-group case-based learning take students out of the lecture hall. Cultural competency and interdisciplinary concepts are emphasized.
Some students are accepted into an optional Problem-Based Learning track — a case-oriented curriculum encouraging problem solving and teamwork that is geared toward the more independent learner. SOM was ranked 13th among U.S. medical schools for geriatric medical education by U.S. News and World Report last year. It has been among the top 20 U.S.medical schools in this specialty for nine consecutive years.
For the most recent class, graduating in 2013, more than 80 percent of students are NJ residents, with 26 percent from South Jersey. Fifty-three percent of graduates practice in the State, and 54 percent of those deliver primary care. The school has expanded its class size recently, responding to the increasing need for primary care physicians. The class of 2013 includes 135 students. SOM is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
SOM collaborates in education, service and research with five other UMDNJ schools that offer programs on the 32-acre Stratford campus: the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; School of Nursing; School of Health Related Professions; School of Public Health; and New Jersey Dental School.
The school offers several joint degree programs:
DO/MS; DO/MPH; DO/MBA;
In July 2008, SOM’s Curriculum Committee approved plans for a new curriculum, which was implemented in August 2009. It uses lecture/discussion, small group sessions, on-line learning, standardized patient encounters, simulators, the year-one preceptor program, and community involved primary care projects. There is an increase in case-based learning, especially in year two. This is student directed learning in small groups based on cases written by and facilitated by faculty members.
A major goal of curriculum reform was to decrease the classroom time for first and second year students. A 21 percent decrease was accomplished by eliminating redundancy, utilizing on-line resources, and incorporating student-directed learning techniques. Another important goal was to emphasize musculoskeletal medicine and to increase the content in pediatrics and geriatrics.
The new curriculum is based on the seven competencies of the American Osteopathic Association: osteopathic philosophy and osteopathic manipulative
medicine; medical knowledge; patient care; interpersonal and communication skills; professionalism; practice-based learning and improvement; and systems-based practice.