Medical school is a hands-on learning experience, but in today’s busy world, many schools make some courses available to you 100% online. Below, you can learn more about this online coursework and whether or not it is right for you, and you can even discover some helpful tips on getting the most out of it, too. You’ll also learn you can prepare for your medical exams with online courses.
What Kinds of Courses Can You Take Online?
If your course requires hands-on participation, then you probably won’t find an online version. However, for certain others – things like psychology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and others – you may be given the option to study at home. Not every medical school has this option, and this option isn’t right for every single student. These are tough courses, and many students find that they’re even tougher when they do not have access to live lectures and other activities that reinforce the topics.
Important Pros and Cons
Online courses are beneficial for busy students who need the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Most schools offer access to lectures – both live via video and prerecorded – as well as the same assignments as your on-campus peers. However, there are some disadvantages, too. You won’t be near your peers for your classes, and you’ll need to be able to motivate yourself to not only study, but actually teach yourself the concepts. Online courses may not be the best idea for students who tend to procrastinate or who have trouble motivating themselves.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Online Courses
If you determine that online courses are best for your busy life, there are a few things you can do to maximize your learning potential.
- Attend live lectures whenever you can. If the professor streams his or her lecture, try to be there to watch. Sometimes, a teacher’s aid will moderate comments from distance learners, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions like you would if you were actually seated in the classroom.
- Use discussion boards. Discussion boards are fantastic for interacting with your peers, getting help with tough topics, asking tough questions, and perhaps even putting together study groups for particular topics. In fact, in many online courses, discussion board participation is a graded requirement.
- Use the Pomodoro method. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, and that’s because it’s a study method that was originally adapted from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Simply put, study for 20 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Then study for 25 minutes and take a five-minute break. Gradually increase the length of time you study with each session, and for every 30 minutes you add to your sessions, add another five minutes to your break.
- Take it seriously. If there’s one piece of advice that really matters, it’s the fact that you should take your online courses just as seriously as the rest. Just because you aren’t traveling to campus, that doesn’t mean you should put in less effort. Watch the lecture videos and take notes as if you were there. Make flash cards, find a study group, and use your question bank software to help you learn the tougher topics, too.
Online courses for medical students can be a blessing or a curse, but this depends primarily on the student. As long as you are motivated and willing to go the extra mile, you can use online courses to your advantage and gain the same amount of knowledge as you would in the classroom.