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Schools Prepare for Students’ Safe and Productive Return to Campus in 2020

August 06, 2020
Photo courtesy of Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM)

Across the country, osteopathic medical schools are welcoming back returning students and preparing the class of 2024 for their orientation. While schools are closely monitoring COVID-19 and continuing to follow guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), campuses are finding safe ways to get students ready for classwork and exams. 

"We will be moving forward with an academic plan that will offer a hybrid approach, honoring the personal needs of our students while still offering a vibrant campus culture," said Thomas M. Evans, PhD, President of the University of Incarnate Word in a message to incoming students. "Whether you take courses online, in-person, or a combination of both, you can still expect classes designed to challenge and enlighten, and a community ready to support your academic, spiritual and personal growth at every turn."

Photo courtesy of NYITCOMVirtual lectures and video classes will play a major part in this year's class activities, and schools are implementing a range of remote learning options. Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) will be providing online, remote, and hybrid learning options for students as needed, depending on the needs of the school community. "We know how to do it," President Ali A. Houshmand, PhD, said in a letter to the community, "and will use what we’ve learned to create an even more robust and agile academic community." At Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), faculty, staff, and students engaged in tutoring and small group advisement have been encouraged to meet via Microsoft Teams to maintain community safety. 

For many schools, on-site training will still be available for Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP) labs, but with additional safety measures. At Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM), OPP and Primary Clinical Skills labs have been broken into smaller groups, and students will be required to have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)for the techniques that will be demonstrated. 

HokieOsteopathic medical schools are also finding innovative ways to train students amid this year's challenges. In anticipation of the start of their clinical externships, third-year students in Rocky Vista University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) recently participated in Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine (FCM), a course that prepares them, through hyper-realistic simulations and virtual reality, to meet with patients in a clinical setting. Due to the pandemic, this year’s course also includes online sessions, PPE workshops, and social distancing.