If you’re thinking about going back to school and pursuing your healthcare studies online, this is an excellent time to do it. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a massive global shift to online learning. This means that several programs that were not previously available online now are, educators have become more effective at teaching remotely, and technological advances that facilitate online learning have been made. In short, your dreams of getting an online healthcare degree do not need to be put on hold.
In fact, it is wiser for you to act on these dreams sooner rather than later, as COVID-19 has underlined the importance of and need for healthcare workers all over the world. For instance, hospitals across the United States remain extremely understaffed as the virus continues to spread. The demand for travel nurses, per diem personnel, and respiratory techs, is increasingly high.
If you are in the early stages of planning your online study pathway, you may have a lot of questions. What kind of healthcare programs can you study online? Are there any degrees in the healthcare field that you cannot pursue entirely online? How long will it take to get an online degree? What are the costs associated with getting an online degree? Do the stress levels vary between types of study (i.e. online study vs. on-campus study)? This guide breaks down all the answers to your questions and tells you everything you need to know.
You can work towards online degrees in a wide array of disciplines and industries, such as business administration, finance, marketing, hospitality, and of course healthcare. When it comes to the healthcare industry, many of these programs (but not all of them) require an in-class component. For instance, if you are hoping to study medicine, nursing, or biomed, there is more than likely going to be laboratory assessment requirements, which may not align with your goals if you’re hoping to study entirely online.
With that being said, there are numerous healthcare degrees that can be obtained through 100% online study, such as healthcare administration, health informatics, radiation therapy, and occupational therapy. Another excellent example is medical coding and billing. In just four months of full-time online study, you can receive your medical coding and billing certification, which will give you the credentials needed to break into this growing industry (medical coder jobs are expected to grow by 13% through 2026).
Duration of Study
In terms of the time commitment you are looking at for an online healthcare degree, this varies depending on the type of degree you are pursuing, just like it would at a traditional institution. If you are getting a bachelor’s degree or a doctoral degree, you are looking at a multi-year commitment of full-time study. On the other hand, if you are exploring certificate programs, diploma degrees, and/or master’s degrees, some programs may take a year or less to complete.
When choosing a degree, be sure to think about what kind of time commitment you are willing to take on to finish your studies. Remember to consider relevant factors in this decision-making process; for example, if you are planning to work full-time while doing your studies, a multi-year program may be too long-term for you.
Costs of Online Study
Generally, online study is a more affordable option than traditional in person schooling. Not only does tuition tend to be cheaper for online programs, but students also save on transportation costs and many course materials. There are also many amenities that traditional institutions offer (i.e. student residences, student unions, healthcare plans) that cost more; in online study, these fees are not included.
Keep in mind that an online degree can still be a significant financial investment. Similarly, you may require financial aid from your institution or from the federal government to help fund your studies, regardless of whether it is in person or online.
Many are lauding online study, calling it significantly less stressful than traditional on-campus study. There is some validity to this: online learning is inherently more flexible because you can complete much of your coursework whenever and wherever you want. Additionally, there is no daily commute to campus, so you are avoiding the stress of getting caught in traffic and potentially being late to class.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that online study does not come without stress. For many students, these feelings stem from the fact that this is their first time studying online and navigating this new method of learning feels foreign and challenging. Study stress can manifest in a variety of ways, including physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue and mental symptoms such as a sense of isolation, irritability, and poor concentration. Even when studying online, it’s important to be mindful of the ways school-related stress could be taking its toll on you, along with finding ways of maintaining your mental health while learning from home.
It is especially vital to monitor your stress levels while studying online in the context of COVID-19. Due to the rapid global spread of the virus and social distancing measures, any school-related feelings of anxiety or loneliness could very well be exacerbated by the pandemic. With that in mind, prioritize your mental health in these unprecedented times: manage your expectations for yourself and others, take the time to rest when you need it, and create a new schedule that works for you.
Pursuing an online healthcare degree can be an excellent way to gain more knowledge, expand your skill sets, and boost your overall employability. Fortunately, there are several types of degrees in the healthcare industry that you can get entirely online, including healthcare administration, health informatics, and medical coding and billing. There are certain degrees you can get in as little as a few months and at a much more affordable rate than traditional institutions. As long as you manage your school-related stress effectively and stay on top of your online studies, getting an online healthcare degree could be the best decision you make for your professional and personal future.