Student- and Faculty-Reported Importance of Science Prerequisites for Osteopathic Medical School: A Survey-Based Study

Judith Binstock, MA, PhD, and Tipsuda Junsanto-Bahri, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: September 11, 2013

Accepted: February 25, 2014

Published: April 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(4): 242-251

Context: The relevance of current standard medical school science prerequisites is being reexamined.

Objectives: To identify which science prerequisites are perceived to best prepare osteopathic medical students for their basic science and osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) coursework and (2) to determine whether science prerequisites for osteopathic medical school should be modified.

Methods: Preclinical osteopathic medical students and their basic science and OMM faculty from 3 colleges of osteopathic medicine were surveyed about the importance of specific science concepts, laboratories, and research techniques to medical school coursework. Participants chose responses on a 5-point scale, with 1 indicating “strongly disagree” or “not important” and 5 indicating “strongly agree” or “extremely important.” Participants were also surveryed on possible prerequisite modifications.

Results: Student responses (N=264) to the general statement regarding prerequisites were “neutral” for basic science coursework and “disagree” for OMM coursework, with mean (standard deviation [SD]) scores of 3.37 (1.1) and 2.68 (1.2), respectively. Faculty responses (N=49) were similar, with mean (SD) scores of 3.18 (1.1) for basic science coursework and 2.67 (1.2) for OMM coursework. Student mean (SD) scores were highest for general biology for basic science coursework (3.93 [1.1]) and physics for OMM coursework (2.5 [1.1]). Student mean (SD) scores were lowest for physics for basic science coursework (1.79 [1.2]) and organic chemistry for OMM coursework (1.2 [0.7]). Both basic science and OMM faculty rated general biology highest in importance (mean [SD] scores, 3.73 [0.9] and 4.22 [1.0], respectively). Students and faculty rated biochemistry high in importance for basic science coursework (mean [SD] scores of 3.66 [1.2] and 3.32 [1.2], respectively). For basic science coursework, students and faculty rated most laboratories as “important,” with the highest mean (SD) ratings for general anatomy (students, 3.66 [1.5]; faculty, 3.72 [1.1]) and physiology (students, 3.56 [1.7]; faculty, 3.61 [1.1]). For their OMM coursework, students rated only general anatomy and physiology laboratories as “important” (mean [SD] scores, 3.22 [1.8] and 2.61 [1.6], respectively), whereas OMM faculty rated all laboratories as “important” (mean scores, >3). Both student and faculty respondents rated research techniques higher in importance for basic science coursework than for OMM coursework. For prerequisite modifications, all respondents indicated “no change” for biology and “reduce content” for organic chemistry and physics. All respondents favored adding physiology and biochemistry as prerequisites.

Conclusions: General biology and laboratory were the only standard prerequisites rated as “important.” Research techniques were rated as “important” for basic science coursework only. Physiology and biochemistry were identified as possible additions to prerequisites. It may be necessary for colleges of osteopathic medicine to modify science prerequisites to reflect information that is pertinent to their curricula.

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