Top Online Medical Schools
No one would want their nurse, dentist or surgeon to have earned a degree without ever holding a needle, drill or scalpel in their hands. For exactly that reason, there are no 100 percent online medical schools where you can earn your MD degree, at least not in the United States. There are a number of medical-related programs, most of them administrative or managerial, that can be completed 100 percent online, including: medical billing, medical coding and medicinal informatics. However, for individuals who want to work with medical professionals during surgery or in the lab, onsite attendance will be required for anyone who does not already the related work-experience.
For those students with practical work experience and who are already employed as practicing medical professionals, distance learning can cut back their on-site attendance time while working towards a higher degree or certification such as in phlebotomy, the practice of drawing blood, or a degree in surgical or lab assisting. These programs may be beneficial for both practicing nurses and students enrolled in nursing programs but who want to jumpstart their employment potential following graduation.
Online medical training provides a convenient avenue for medical workers to learn new skills and keep their current skills up to date. Medical professionals with on-the-job training and clinical experience who are looking to gain new skills or complete a degree may find online medical programs to be an unobtrusive way to continue their education.
Online courses can reduce the mandatory the need for on-site attendance, providing a more relaxed study pace that also allows practicing technologists to keep their careers. Again, the courses will not replace the practical training which must occur for all medical professions.
Below are some of the medical focuses available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:
Due to the hands-on nature of medical care, most online medical courses do require occasional on-site attendance to complete exams or demonstrate learned skills. However, the majority of coursework can be completed over the Internet, which allows students to complete their medical training at a more relaxed pace.
Medical Assistant Training
A medical assistant’s job description can range from performing the administrative tasks of the practice, scheduling patient appointments and recording patient history to measuring a patient’s vital signs, performing injections, preparing blood samples and possibly performing x-rays or removing stitches. The role of a medical assistant can vary depending on the state and doctor they are assisting. Because of this, much of the training a medical assistant receives is on the job. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants who can examine and diagnose, as well as treat, patients, nor should they be confused with nurses who undergo more training and education.
A large part of the education as a medical assistant is on-the-job training, learning how to perform the daily tasks at the practice in which they work and instruction on medical coding. Students may become proficient in various aspects of medical assisting through online classes in medical coding and claims processing, infection control, human anatomy and more. Online courses for medical assistants always require students to attend on-site exams and demonstrations, but the online medical schools may be willing to work with students to accommodate individual schedules. Additionally, for students with experience in a medical setting, medical assistance education is a required step for certification from the AAMA.
Certification, such the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), is readily available to skilled medical assistants. All certificates except for the CMA require only passing an exam; the CMA requirements include completion of an assistance program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) before the exam can be administered. All certifications are accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS.gov, 2012) notes that the employment outlook for medical assistants is expected to grow up to 31 percent, or twice as fast as all other professions, from 2010 to 2020 due primarily to an aging baby boomer generation and the affordability of assistants over nurses. The national median salary of a medical assistant was listed by the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) as $29,100 in May, 2011.
Surgical Technologist Education
A surgical technologist’s job description is very simple: assist the surgeon before and during the surgery. They are responsible for handing equipment to surgeons and first assistants, sterilizing equipment before the operation, preparing the patient for procedures (gowns, placement swabbing), transporting the patient to the operating room and disposing of specimens taken for laboratory analysis. They may also check for malfunctioning equipment and assist with the dressing of surgeons before the operation. Due to work environment of a surgical technologist -- an operating room during an operation -- surgical technologists must have superb stress-management skills.
While online courses to become a surgical technician may sound like a dream, the truth is students will have to complete portions of the surgical technician course on-site. Students can complete many general education classes and academic requirements on a home computer, such as: biology, medical terminology and anatomy. Online surgical technician courses can reduce on-site attendance, providing a more relaxed study pace that can make a difference for many career learners.
Certification is available for surgical technologists who have completed an accredited training program and continue to undergo additional education. There are only two credentialing organizations, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and the Nation Center for Competency Testing (NCCT); they offer the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician (CORST) and “Tech in Surgery-Certified” certifications.
According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), the national median surgical technologist salary was $40,950 in May, 2011 and the employment outlook of is expected to grow by up to 19 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012). Growth is expected as a result of increasing joint and heart-related operations performed on aging baby boomers.
Phlebotomy Certification & Education
Phlebotomists are often the only member of the clinic’s lab team that interacts with the patient, and they are the only member of the lab team that can draw blood. Many more health care professionals seek phlebotomy certification as a possible way into the lab or absorb more responsibility during employment. A phlebotomist’s job entails drawing blood, disposing of needles, verifying medical identities and records and transporting blood to and from the lab.
Phlebotomy courses may be beneficial for students already enrolled in nursing programs or students with access to a clinic or prior experience drawing blood. In some practices, only assistants or lab technicians with phlebotomy certifications are allowed to draw blood from a patient. Education includes instruction on proper use of blood collection tools (vacuum collection devises, syringes) in addition to puncture methods and didactic instruction. If you are already a health care professional, you can learn about the latest technology and procedures for phlebotomists in online courses, or with enough on-the-job experience, complete a phlebotomy degree program.
For certification as a phlebotomist, a student needs one year of part-time, or six months of full-time, on-the-job experience (or letter from supervisor stating job is to procuring blood specimens) in addition to 100 documented vein punctures and five documented skin punctures and completion of an accredited phlebotomy degree program. Phlebotomy certification needs to be renewed each year.
According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the yearly salary of phlebotomists employed only to collect blood was $28,080 per year with supervisors earning $41,766 per year. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) expects the employment outlook to expand by up to 15 percent, in line with growth expected by other medical technician professions, between 2010 and 2020.
Histology & Medical Lab Technician Training
A medical lab technician analyzes bodily fluids, blood and tissue samples for toxins, pathogens and sample types. Their work is invaluable for the diagnosis of medical conditions and diseases as well as medical research. Their samples can come from patients in the same hospital they work in or from clinics miles away. The hands-on aspects of the profession require extensive hands-on training, and no education program for laboratory training can be completed entirely online.
Technicians may specialize in immunohematology, clinical chemistry, cytotechnologists, immunology, microbiology and molecular biology further specialization requires specialized education above the entry-level requirement of a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life science. Labs in large hospitals may require specialized work by individual technicians while the work may be generalized in smaller hospitals. Lab technologists are lab supervisors and are responsible for the work performed by technicians.
If a student has already completed the required courses in math, chemistry and biology, a completed bachelor’s degree in any discipline may be enough to enter a lab training program. Hands-on medical lab training can be done during a student’s senior year while pursuing a degree in medical laboratory science or a life science (biology, organic chemistry). Without leaving your home, you could complete classes in laboratory terminology, HIPAA and OSHA regulations, quality assurance practices, laboratory organizational structures and information data systems for a medical lab. Online degree programs in the life sciences can be done in conjunction with a one-year certificate program from a hospital or lab.
If you are already a practicing medical lab assistant, you may be able to brush up on clinical lab assistant training online for certification as a histology technician or technologists. Histology technologists prepare tissue samples for analysis by a pathologist and play an intricate role in both medical research and in patient diagnosis. Their duties include dehydrating and staining tissue samples and identifying tissue structures and cell components and noting proper relation to physiological functions. According to the AMA, programs for histology typically last 12 months and may include classes in immunology, microscopy and medical ethics.
According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), the yearly national median medical and clinical lab technician salary was $36,950 in May, 2011 but varied depending on where the technician was employed, and in what institution; medical lab technicians employed by the government made a national median wage of $40,180 per year while technicians working in diagnostic laboratories made $34,280 (BLS.gov, 2012). According to the ASCP, the yearly “average median” salary for a histology technician was $47,174 with supervisors making $61,318. Employment growth is expected to be between 11 and 15 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012).
Learn more about accredited medical programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:
Please be sure to check that your schools of interest have all been accredited by organizations approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. Verify the institution or program is accredited by using search tools from CHEA, from NCCA or from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
Accredited Online Medical Schools
The following CAAHEP accredited schools provide online and distance learning education programs for phlebotomy, surgical assisting and medical assisting focuses and represents 100 percent of all accredited online medical programs carrying CAAHEP accreditation.
Transfusion Medical Academy of Central Florida Blood Services - St Petersburg, FL
Indiana Blood Center - Indianapolis, IN
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center - Dallas, TX
University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston, TX
Gulf Coast School of Blood Bank Technology - Houston, TX
College of Southern Idaho - Twin Falls, ID
Madisonville Community College - Madisonville, KY
Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting - Joelton, TN
Spencerian College - Louisville - Louisville, KY
Mountain State University - Beckley, WV
Sources and Further Reading:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Department of Education
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation
The Institute for Credentialing Excellence
The American Medical Technologists
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
NHA, phlebotomy technician certification
ASPT, phlebotomy certification requirements
AAMA, certification requirements
NCCT, certification application