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Can I Attend Medical School Online?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is possible to attend medical school online, but doing so is recommended in only a very limited number of fields. For example, it is possible to learn to do some kinds of lab work and medical transcription online, which some people might consider a type of medical school. In most cases, it is absolutely not possible to become a medical doctor or nurse without attending a physically located school. Someone might attend medical school online in order to supplement a traditional university degree, but an online program cannot replace that degree.

When most people talk about medical school, they are referring to schools that teach students how to practice medicine. This usually is taken to mean becoming a doctor, although it is also possible to become a physician's assistant or learn how to teach medicine. In order to be successful in these professions, a person absolutely must attend a conventional school. While it is possible to attend medical school online, a student cannot learn to practice medicine online if he or she ever wishes to work as a medical professional.

Certain fields related to medicine, however, can be learned online. Someone might attend medical school online in order to learn medical transcription or medical filing practices. In these cases, an online degree may not only be sufficient, nut it can actually help obtain a great job. For jobs that require working with chemicals or patients, some practice in a lab is usually required, but it is possible to work toward a degree partially online as long as those courses are supplemented with lab courses.

Many people argue that it should be possible to attend medical school online, and it is possible that some day a reputable medical school for doctors will move online. This perspective has some merit, given that online courses are convenient and can be easier to attend with various life restrictions. On the other hand, a person who is prepared to commit to the stresses of being a doctor should also likely be prepared to attend courses in a physical setting.

Preparation for the experience of working with the human body can be gained only by actually seeing how the body works, which can be conveyed only partially by representations. Given the tactile nature of the profession, it is unlikely that medical school will ever move fully online. More importantly, until a reputable school for doctors actually makes the move online, it is safe to say that no one who wishes to become a doctor should attend medical school online even if such a school is available.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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