Today, degrees for various health care and medical careers are available online. However, certain careers require successful completion of traditional campus-based medical education: for example, in the U.S., you cannot become a physician by enrolling in online medical degree programs. Some coursework may be available online, but entire programs are not. Other careers in medicine and health care do have an online educational path.
Online medical/health care programs online
The list of online medical/health care programs is a long one. Online programs include diplomas and certificates as well as associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Online programs are available for any of the following health care careers:
- Medical assistant
- Medical billing, coding and transcription assistant
- Dental assistant
- Medical technician and technologist
- Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic
- Health care manager or health services administrator
- Dental hygienist
- Massage therapist
- Respiratory therapist
- Occupational or physical therapist
- Health information technologist
- Public health administrator
- Physician Assistant
Many health care support programs are available entirely online. Other health care programs, particularly for health care practitioners, offer most of the coursework online but also require an on-site clinical experience component. These programs are referred to as hybrid programs.
Accredited online degree programs usually fulfill the same licensing and certification requirements as accredited campus-based degree programs. Pre-requisites for any accredited medical degree program are dictated by the individual program and school, whether they are online or campus-based.
Continuing education online
For many health care professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, EMTs/paramedics, occupational and physical therapists, physician assistants and radiologic technologists, continuing education is mandatory in order to remain licensed or certified. Online continuing education has become increasingly popular because it is more convenient and less time-consuming. The type and amount of continuing education for health care professionals is generally mandated by individual states and varies widely. For example, some states require nurses to take 30 hours of continuing education every two years while others only require three hours every two years. Some states mandate the subject matter of continuing education while other states only have a general requirement for a certain number of hours.
Careers after the medical degree
A number of career opportunities may be available for those with a medical degree including:
- Medical and biomedical research
- Journalism or medical writer
- Pharmaceutical representative
- Health care CEO
- Public speaker or TV/Radio personality
- Expert witness
- Worker's compensation or medical insurance professional
- Medical examiner
Online degrees in medical and health care fields can provide an excellent way to get into high growth health care careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, more than 45 percent of the fastest growing occupations are in health care and nearly 25 percent of the occupations expected to contribute the largest number of new jobs are also in health care.