What is Distance Medical Education?

G. Wiesen

Distance medical education is a method by which a person can receive medical education through distance learning, rather than attending classes in person. There are a number of different programs that can offer this type of education, and the way in which it is offered and the type of education offered can vary quite a bit. While most medical education does require classroom attendance of some kind, there are many programs that can be attended, at least in part, through a distance learning program. Distance medical education often includes different forms of technology, including the Internet and remote location videoconferencing.

Distance medical education allows a person to receive medical education without having to attend classes in person.
Distance medical education allows a person to receive medical education without having to attend classes in person.

Though different schools can offer distance medical education programs in a variety of ways, there are certain aspects of such programs that are typically similar. In general, these programs offer students an opportunity to attend classes or learn new materials through a distance learning program, rather than attending classes in a classroom with a teacher in person. This is typically done through some type of technological means, usually through the Internet or a similar network. While distance medical education may not work for all classes and programs, there are a number of medical courses that can be effectively offered in this way.

One of the most common types of distance medical education provided by some schools is continuing or ongoing education. This type of education is typically required of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who have completed their basic education and are already working in the industry. These professionals are often required to continue their education so they are aware of new treatments and diagnosis methods, as well as developments and breakthroughs in the health care industry. By attending distance medical education programs, rather than standard seminars or workshops, medical professionals can gain the knowledge they need without the expense of traveling to another location.

There are also distance medical education programs that allow students to complete coursework toward their initial degree through a distance learning method. This can include anything from courses in anatomy and physiology, often supplemented by online interactive materials, to attendance of grand rounds via videoconferencing. These courses may require occasional attendance at a lab or particular location for special events, but otherwise they can typically be attended through the Internet or similar network. Grand rounds can potentially involve moving from location to location and discussing diagnosis methods for patients; these rounds are often done in a stationary location instead, similar to a lecture, and videoconferencing allows students to remain interactive even from remote locations.

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