Online Medical Schools: What Types of Schools Exist?

Students interested in an online medical school shouldn't expect to earn a degree that will allow them work as a physician. There are standalone medical courses available online, however, mostly geared toward licensed health care professionals who need to maintain their credentials.

Becoming a physician requires the completion of an on-campus medical program, but health care professionals who want to increase their expertise or earn continuing education credits can complete online courses.

Availability of Online Medical School

There are no medical schools that allow students to earn their degree online in the United States. Medical school students must attend in-person classes to become full-fledged doctors and physicians. These programs require advanced coursework and clinical studies that are not strictly available at an online school.

Online Courses in Medicine

The most common type of online medical courses are continuing education (CE) and continuing medical education (CME) courses. These courses do not teach students to become doctors or other health care professionals; instead, they help current professionals and physicians stay up-to-date with advances in treatment and technology.

Health care professionals, such as nurses may be required to take CE courses for licensure renewal or as requested by their employers. Similarly, licensed physicians are required to meet CME requirements. Course topics and programs designed for CE and CME may include the following:

  • Behavioral health
  • Geriatrics
  • Medicine,
  • Radiology
  • Rheumatology
  • Oncology
  • Neurology

Online Course Format

Some courses require buying learning materials and using the material's online supplement, then taking online tests. Other courses may be conducted through email and online chat sessions. Still other courses are taught in an online message board forum format with students and professors meeting at a specific time on the school's website.

Even though there are no online medical schools, licensed medical professionals can find online continuing education options.


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