Online Medical Schools – Pros/Cons

online medical degree

Considered studying for an online Medical Degree? An online Medical School is one option to consider as it may suit your requirements for flexibility.

There are many reasons why that phrase is truer for medical training than other fields. Most students report that the cost of an education is expensive, and for medical students the required to obtain you medical degree is significant.

Many fields require four to six years after high school. Medical training may take form 7 years up to 22 years for specialist training. The cost of education, materials, internship, residency, and/or fellowship studies before entering a practice. If there is an option to complete coursework faster, get better training, and save money, medical schooling is certainly a place to make that transition.

“The Revolutionary Path:” The Pros of Online Learning

One professor, Andrew Patterson, MD, has coined this new phrase, “The Revolutionary Path,” as a replacement for medical school professors who lecture and students who listen.1 Several Stanford University medical professors agree with him, as does Salaman Khan. The Khan Academy2 offers, according to the mission statement, “a free world class education for anyone anywhere in the world.” Stanford University medical professors though the Sanford Medicine Interactive Learning Initiatives3 developed some of the free online medical school courses.

The Khan Academy states that after two years they have served 7,000,000 in one month, 60,000,000 total unique students, with 180,000,000 lessons. Twenty thousand teachers are using the “Flip Classroom” concept. The student will sit at home and listen to a professor lecture; in the classroom the student is doing what had been previously “homework.” Therefore, the real learning is now taking place inside the classroom, not at home. The student now have three times the help with problem solving, he or she (1) has a professor, (2) students teaching him or her, and (3) he or she is teaching others. The formerly lecturing teacher is now more aware of how much learning is taking place; something not seen in the initial situation. The learning situation has “flipped” and become exponentially more effective at the same time.

Charles Prober, MD, the senior associate dean for medical education at the School of Medicine, is onboard. Prober, who oversees the school’s new educational technologies, leapt to national visibility in May with the publication of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Lecture halls without lectures: A proposal for medical education.” Co-written with Chip Heath, PhD, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the article stated flatly, “It’s time to change the way we educate doctors.”4

To gain a broader insight into this concept, read “The One World Schoolhouse” by Sal Khan. He explains the concept of honestly learning at your own pace; grasping each concept completely before moving onto the next one and moving through courses as an individual, not as a classroom of people with unique learning styles and needs. Sanford University calls it “Interactive Learning,” something they feel is superior for medical students as mastery of the content is in the hands of the students, not a college calendar.

online medical degree stanford university

More pros for studying for medical degree online:
• Convenient – flexible hours from any location – perfect for veterans
• Less expensive – no transportation costs, lower tuition, no campus fees
• Technology travels with you, not visa versa
• A total worldview inside the classroom
• Student centered
• Easy access to conventionally limited resources
• High quality and consistent as poor lectures are “weeded out”
• No discrimination due to race, sex, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disabilities, age, dress, cultural expressions, etc.
• No visa restrictions
• No public embarrassment
• Easier learning for visual learners
• No time constraints – any time at any pace
• Reduced time monopolizers – equal participation
• A more self-direction, semi-autonomous learning environment
• Encourages critical thinking


The Cons of Online Learning

Most educators agree that to have a highly effective outcome from online learning programs requires:

• A mature outlook based on being a self-starter
• Self-disciplined and motivated
• Well organized
• Refined time management skills
• Have an optimistic attitude about learning online
If a student is lacking in any of these areas, the online experience will be less effective.

online medical degree

The other cons are:
• Limited social interaction
o Develop few relationships
o Few networking opportunities
o Limited one-on-one with instructors or classmates
• Technology: cost to obtain, develop, and schedule
o Time zone complications
o Need for expensive equipment and Internet access
o Need reliable electrical utilities
• Reliability of assessments
o Memory testing is not as effective as developing critical thinking skills and that is more difficult to measure
• Challenges for Instructors
o Professional development requirements have gone to a whole new level – this is an issue for professors who have had a traditional career path and are now trying to adapt to the online protocol


Experts seem to agree that the success of online learning programs is heavily weighted by student motivation. For those students who have no other option and are motivated, this is a very workable solution. Medical degrees require a great deal of stamina and discipline to work towards your goal.

OK, So Where Do I Look?

Khan Academy offers several courses for medical doctors. Most of the other online medical courses are for medical records, medical assistants, and other related fields. This concept is emerging, so stay alert to what is just around the corner as Sanford Medicine Interactive Learning Initiatives3 is the only one found that is currently operating.


When you are considering studying, perhaps studying online for your medical degree is an option for you. Consider an Online Medical School to study for your medical degrees as one option considering the range of student requirements for flexibility in their learning

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