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Office of Educational Support Services  (OESS) 

What is the Goal of the Office of Educational Support Services (OESS) in the medical and pharmacy schools?

The goal of the OESS is to help students maximize their comprehension and retention of information critical to their education and develop life-long learning skills. To further this goal, the OESS provides academic assistance to UC San Diego medical and pharmacy students in most first-year SOM core courses; this assistance is available at no charge. The OESS is staffed by health sciences educators who combine expertise in specific subjects with proficiency in helping students to develop optimal study strategies. OESS educators coordinate their support services with the faculty and also support the faculty in their educational goals. In addition, OESS educators have a teaching role in many courses, serving as facilitators for small-group discussion sessions and laboratories, assisting with team-based learning sessions, and presenting lectures.

Contact information and areas of expertise for the OESS educators, April Apperson, Steve Schneid, and Paul Kingston, are provided on the Contact Information page.

How do I get help in a SOM core course?

Any student concerned about or experiencing difficulties in one of the courses supported by the OESS is encouraged to request assistance at any time during the quarter by emailing an educator with expertise in that subject. The educators can meet with students by Zoom. The educators to contact for specific courses are listed under the appropriate quarter (fall, winter, or spring) or on the Contact Information page under "Staff by Course".

Can I get help in preparing for the USMLE, Step 1?

Academic assistance also is available for second-year medical students preparing for Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), which is taken at the end of the second year. OESS educators can help students develop study schedules and will offer reviews of specific first-year subjects if there is sufficient student interest.

How can I get an amazing head start? Core Topics in Biomedical Sciences during the summer!

The OESS offers an optional summer pre-matriculation course, Core Topics in Biomedical Sciences (CTBS), to all students admitted to the UC San Diego SOM or Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS). This seven-week course focuses primarily on challenging topics within courses taught in Fall quarter of the first-year SOM curriculum, including cardiovascular, autonomic and pulmonary physiology, and molecular cell biology. Immunology is also included in CTBS because its rapid pace in the first-year SOM curriculum has consistently proven challenging. The CTBS course also helps students develop the study and time-management skills that are important for success in the SOM curriculum.

The CTBS course is offered to all students who have been accepted into the SOM or SSPPS, and can ease the transition into the SOM curriculum. Those with educationally diverse backgrounds are especially encouraged to attend (SSPPS students are encouraged to attend prior to their second year). A significant number of students accepted into the SOM and SSPPS have majors outside of the biological sciences, and many have been away from full-time study for a year or more. CTBS provides the opportunity to reawaken skills and master challenging topics for the SOM curriculum.

What other services does the OESS provide?

Medical and pharmacy students are exposed to virtually unlimited amounts of information. OESS educators can help medical and pharmacy students develop the effective active study strategies that are needed to identify the relevant portions, master them, and integrate them with their existing knowledge. In addition to meeting with students to discuss study strategies, OESS educators have developed an online guide to active study techniques that includes answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on active studying and test-taking.