Thursday, September 29, 2005

Distance Education vs. Traditional Education for Medical Assistants


What is Distance Education? Lots of colleges, universities and institutes are offering online study. The possibility of earning a certificate, diploma, or degree without ever stepping into a classroom and never meeting instructors and classmates face-to-face is very attractive. However, earning a Medical Assistant certificate from a corner desk in your living room or home office without might be a bit more challenging than you thought.


How Does Distance Education Work? Distance education is created and delivered online. The student's main tool is the computer and Internet service to retrieve the lessons, assignments, quizzes and tests. Communication tools such as message boards and live chats to share ideas, debate issues, and learn from each others' experiences are also often an integral part of distance education. Access to online research libraries and services are often provided by the instructor, as well as to other relevant websites for further research and self-study. Once a student has submitted an assignment response or quiz the instructor reviews the work via computer and unless there are certain time limits or restraints everybody works at their own pace on their own time and location that's convenient for them.


What Usually Attracts People to Distance Education Programs?
Distance education online is great for those who seek personal and professional advancement in certain areas of existing knowledge and expertise. Learning from home is especially attractive to students who want to be near their family, work on their own, show what they can do, avoid the hassle of the commute, avoid discrimination, and save money on childcare, books, and tuition.


Is Distance Education as Good as Traditional Education?
Distance education is only as good as you make it. It is very different from education provided by experts in a traditional classroom. Partaking in a distance education program requires considerable amounts of self-discipline, computer skills, and Internet know-how. For the computer and Internet savvy student distance education programs are great to learn fundamental theories, or utilize them as refresher courses to solidify and expand existing knowledge. However, many agree that when it comes to novices and vocational training, especially in nursing, the health care industry, and medical assisting field, students should learn their skills in real classrooms. Only here are they provided with the student teacher interaction, realistic case scenarios, and hands-on exercises that prepares them to anticipate, respond, and relate to situations that typically arise at the future workplace, from the simplest to the most complex.

Even today, with all progress made, employers who hire prefer gradates from brick-and-mortar campuses over applicants that finished an online course. Employers feel that they are better prepared for today's jobs because online education relies on new hypothesis and concepts that are not yet fully understood, hardly standardized, and still poorly regulated.

Online training providers, non-traditional universities, and so called virtual colleges who offer distance learning programs have different accreditation standards than brick-and-mortar universities, colleges, and vocational training institutions. Depending on individual goals and outcome, distance education is ideal and sufficient for many, but certain professions require approved training, clinical supervision, and continued professional development.


Distance Education Check List:

Contact leading professional associations and certification bodies and ask about their guidelines to who is eligible to sit for their professional certification exams.



  • Get in touch with the provider of the courses and ask questions.
  • Choose only courses that meet your specific educational needs and goals.
  • Check the school's accreditation status and reputation.
  • Ask around; seek advice from professionals already in the field, read the newspaper to find out current trends, what employers want, and what the future outlook might be.
  • Consult the Better Business Bureau and similar consumer protection resources.
  • Know the good from the bad!


  • 2 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Can you see yourself removing sutures, or giving an injection (perhaps immunization / vaccination) to your first patient without having ever been shown and having practiced the skill under the watchful eye of your instructor (and fellow students)???
    Do you know how to assemble all equipment (including syringe), prepare the vial, calculate and draw up the medication, locate the exact injection site, and then give the shot? If you think - only for a second - it is as easy as reading an online lesson, or watching a video clip followed by a 10 questions quiz -- you'd better think again!!!

    Just my 2-cents worth.

    Marsha

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