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How Students Benefit From an Online Education

COVID-19 has forced institutions at all levels to move their classrooms online, however, this has also revealed some of the benefits of an online education. Tricia Berry, Ph.D., MATL, the associate dean and director of Clinical and Practicum Programs for Purdue University Global, explains why the flexibility and convenience of a virtual classroom creates a dynamic learning experience.

Tricia Berry, Ph.D., MATL

Associate Dean and Director, Clinical and Practicum Programs for Purdue University Global

What are some challenges you face when trying to deliver simulations virtually?

The biggest challenge is to find a product that will meet the needs and requirements of the students’ academic program. A few years ago, there weren’t many virtual simulations on the market. Now there are new products being developed and released on a regular basis, but given the breadth of skills needed across the healthcare industry, it can be challenging to find a simulation that meets all the needs of all students. 

How important are clinical innovations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Clinical innovations have become critical during the pandemic. The pandemic has caused lots of disruption but disruption leads to innovation. We have had to change the way we educate healthcare students, and healthcare providers have had to change the way they deliver care.    

While these forced changes have felt uncomfortable and created a lot of anxiety for some, there will undoubtedly be long-term benefits. Patients and providers may find that telehealth is more convenient for some situations, and students may discover online learning works well for them.  Ultimately, hopefully, there will be a good blend of “old” and “new” approaches in the future as we’re able to balance some of the benefits of both approaches. 

What are three major benefits of pursuing an online education in healthcare? 

From my perspective, the biggest benefits of online education are convenience and accessibility.  Students are able to pursue education without having to move to a new location or give up their job and income to be in class. 

That makes access to educational opportunities more feasible for many prospective students. Students can work to fit the education into their life instead of having to disrupt their life to pursue an education. 

It is important to understand that does not mean online education is easy, because that is not the case, but the delivery mode allows for more opportunities and flexibility than a traditional, campus-based program (or even weekend program).  

Also, because an online education allows students to stay actively engaged in their professional field, they are able to apply what they learn instantly. That allows for a dynamic learning experience. 

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