The first step toward a career in healthcare is deciding on an education program. Explore how in-person and online education are different and see what will be best for you.

Working in healthcare can provide you with a career filled with purpose. It can also provide you with stability, benefits and better pay. But, to get your first job, you'll need to master clinical knowledge and skills. That starts with healthcare education.  

You've got a lot of choices when it comes to healthcare job training. It might feel overwhelming when you begin your research. How do you know which program to choose? The good news is that because of this variety, there’s an option that should work for you, whether that’s online or in person.  

Traditional healthcare education versus online, virtual learning 

Traditional healthcare education programs provide face-to-face learning opportunities. They also require students to be on campus for classes and labs. Classes might be back-to-back, or they could be at varied times throughout the week. Students in traditional programs tend to spend a significant amount of time on campus.  

Today, online learning makes healthcare education more accessible than in the past. Online healthcare education programs have been on the rise for many years, long before the COVID-19 pandemic started.  When the pandemic arrived here in the U.S., there was no choice but shift to virtual learning when cases surged and campuses shut down. During that period, innovation soared and online learning became more engaging. It also offered students flexibility in how and when they studied.  

You might be considering an education program so that you can go into a healthcare career. But the decision on what type of program can be complicated. Should you attend a virtual online program or an in-person, traditional program? 

What to consider when researching programs 

  1. Working obligations

For many people, going to school full-time is not an option. You likely have many obligations. Rent, a car payment, groceries, childcare, and other expenses require you to spend a significant portion of your week working. Fitting in education may feel difficult, especially if your work schedule varies from week to week. Finding a program that offers you flexibility will be key. 

  1. Local program availability

Does your local area have a program to train you for the healthcare career you want? Depending on your location there may be many options, but there may also be very few, especially if you’re in a rural location. If you’re struggling to find a local program, online education may be an easier path toward working in healthcare.  


  1. Computer and internet access

While there aren't many requirements for online programs, computer and internet access are a must. Having a reliable internet connection and access to a computer will be crucial towards your success in an online program. 

  1. Program costs

Financial issues are a top reason that students leave school before completing their programs. Tuition and fees can vary quite a lot program by program, so as you do your research, consider the total cost for your program. Look up the average salary in your local area for your the career you want. Weigh those costs against the price of your training program. You can find a program that fits your budget and provides you with training needed for your future career. 

  1. Program length

Like costs, program lengths can vary a lot. Some education programs pace courses over a year or more. Others provide a condensed schedule that you can complete in a few months. Other programs let you go at your own pace so you can fit learning into your schedule in a way that works for you. Explore the program's curriculum and timeline for completion to determine if it provides you with the learning opportunities you need to be great in your future career.  

  1. Support for students

One of the benefits of a traditional in-person school is meeting with instructors and academic advisors. As a student, you can get one-on-one attention to help you stay on track if you put in the effort. But, don’t assume you can’t get that through an online education program as well. You can get personal attention from online program advisors throughout the week rather than specific office hours. And regardless of in-person or online, the type of support you get with your program may vary. Some programs will offer coaching and job search support while others focus more on academic support and tutoring.  

As you continue to research programs, here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

  • What kind of schedule and program length will work best for me?  
  • Where can I access training for the career I want?  
  • Do I have the tools and technology I need for my program? 
  • How do I learn best?  
  • What fits in my budget?  
  • Will I have the support I need to be successful? 

The team at Health Tech Academy is dedicated to helping people achieve a career in healthcare, and we know there are many paths to take to get there. If you have questions and you’d like to chat, our team is always available.