Affiliation of West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine with the Oman Medical College to Provide a Quality Medical Curriculum in the Sultanate of Oman

Presented by David J. Smith, Ph.D and James M. Shumway, Ph.D on February 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

An Affiliation of West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine with the Oman Medical College (OMC) to Provide a Quality Medical Curriculum in the Sultanate of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman, located in the Gulf region of the Middle East on the eastern side of the Saudi Arabian peninsula, is geographically a small country (about the size of Kansas) with three million people.¬† In 1970, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said deposed his father, and with the discovery of oil, led the country from one of nomadic tribes to the modern country we know today.¬† A significant part of that modernization has been the building of the infrastructure to meet the health care needs of its people.¬† Part of Sultan Qaboos’ vision was Omanization, that is, educating Omani citizens to replace expatriate workers to fill the roles of a modern society.¬† With that vision in mind, several businessmen established a private medical college, Oman Medical College, to increase the education of physicians beyond what the state run Sultan Qaboos University could do alone, essentially doubling the number of medical school graduates in the country.¬† The¬†vision for OMC is to provide a US style medical education to be taught in English.¬† The college opened in September of 2001, with a premedical campus in Muscat (three years of preparatory undergraduate education) and the final four years (similar to a US medical school curriculum) taught on the medical college campus in Sohar.¬† After two years of pre-clinical basic sciences on the Sohar campus, students receive their clinical training for the last two years at the large regional hospital in Sohar as well as in the nearby hospital in Rustaq.¬† In 2008, the first class of medical students graduated.

The purpose of this IAMSE web seminar will be to describe the challenges and opportunities of the affiliation of OMC with WVU.¬† Among the topics to be discussed will be the nature of the affiliation agreement, the governance of the college, the impact of language and culture on students’ preparedness for medical school, and the challenges of developing a faculty that can teach in a western curriculum.¬† Recent changes in the basic science curriculum from a block- to an integrated-system will also be described, which when fully implemented is designed to improve the critical thinking skills of the Omani students whose educational background and culture heretofore have hindered the development of independent thinking skills.

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Presenter Bios

David J SmithAfter receiving his Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1969 from WVU’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dr. Smith did postgraduate work at the University of Iowa.¬†He then returned to WVU in 1971 with a joint appointment in Anesthesiology and Pharmacology where his research focused primarily in the pharmacology of pain.¬† His interest and devotion to education eventually lead him to become the Course Director for 12 years for the Medical Pharmacology course at WVU.¬† In addition, he has taught pharmacology in several other courses at the institution.¬† Nationally, he served on the USMLE Test Materials Development Committee for Pharmacology (2003-2005), and has been invited to lecture at several other US medical schools in his area of expertise.¬† He has received several teaching awards including the Golden Apple Award of the American Medical Student Association at WVU, the MacLachlin Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Deans Award for Excellence in Education.¬† In 2009 he became the Associate Chair for Physiology and Pharmacology Education, and now functions to oversee the teaching of Pharmacology in all of the allied health sciences.¬† He began teaching and directing the Medical Pharmacology course at the Oman Medical School (OMC) with its first class and continues to be actively involved in this activity.¬†Initially the courses at OMC where taught in a block structure with pharmacology being the final course of the 5th year curriculum.¬† However, Dr Smith sensed the need to begin the integration of the curriculum and with the 2010 -2011 academic year guided the implementation of such a curriculum which is modeled after the current course structure at WVU.¬† The need for integration at OMC was driven by his concern that students would benefit from the development of critical thinking skills.¬† He proposed that organization of medical education at OMC by a human systems model rather than around individual – stand alone – basic science courses would provide a better understanding of how the human body functions, the pathological processes that alter it and the therapeutic management of diseases.¬† He has also initiated the application of problem-solving MSQ’s in Oman to facilitate critical thinking.¬† Currently his research focuses on educational techniques which are in common practice in the USA, but with an emphasis on their utility in the Arabic culture and educational system in Oman.


James M. ShumwayDr. Shumway received his doctorate in medical education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981.¬† His expertise is in curriculum development and student assessment with academic interests focusing on competence- (outcomes) based medical education.¬† He is currently and has been Associate Dean for Medical Education and Director of the Office of Medical Education at the West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine for over 20 years.¬† He regularly facilitates problem based learning groups of first year students as well as ethics case-based groups of second-year medical students.¬† At WVU he integrated basic science education, required the use of information technology, and increased student-centered learning.¬† He has been a Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) team member for the accreditation of medical schools in North America since 1989.¬† In 1996-97 he was chair of the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).¬† In 2000 he was on sabbatical at the University of Dundee, Scotland, studying outcomes-based education and how student competence is assessed. ¬†Based on that experience, he has written articles and has spoken on such at a number of medical schools.¬† He collaborated with an international consortium, the International Virtual Medical School (IVIMEDS) to increase access to medical education worldwide through the development of virtual medical education curriculum blending evidence-based e-learning and face-to-face educational activities.¬† In 2002-04 he served as the national chair of the AAMC’s Group on Educational Affairs (GEA) section on undergraduate medical education.¬† He has conducted internal reviews of Oman Medical College as part of their accreditation process since 2004. ¬†He has been an active member of the Society of Directors of Research in Medical Education currently serving as its communications committee chair.¬† He is the recent past-chair (2009) of The Generalists in Medical Education, a national organization whose mission is to “promote innovation and collaboration in medical education.” ¬†In 2010 he received the “Servant Leadership” award from The Generalists.¬† Throughout his career, he has been responsible for facilitating change in medical education locally, nationally, and internationally.¬† He believes that the very nature of education should be to constantly question and discover new knowledge and methods of how students learn, how we teach, and how we assess competence.