With today’s current medical and emergency climate, the flexibility of online education provides an affordable and viable solution. “Technology is not only transforming how we deliver education and training but is expanding our capacity to respond to the needs for higher education and training in a broader sense,” Cheryl Fisher and William A. Sadera write in a study comparing online to in-person medical education.1
But what does this future of online learning look like? We interviewed industry experts and educators who work at CareerCert about the potential of online education to shape the medical and emergency industries and improve outcomes. Here’s what they said:
“Students today are really embracing the technology and use of online education,” Mike Minter—MsEd, Paramedic—shares. “Ease of use, cost, convenience, the ability to attend a favored EMS program or college from anywhere, make this even more exciting.”
While many studies have shown that online education is as effective as in-person education,1 there are no doubt benefits to online learning that make it an ideal match for busy healthcare professionals and first responders. “We know that, in general, the schedules of EMS and medical practitioners are hectic. With online education, class schedules offer a variety of time slots to fit most practitioner needs,” says Chris Troxell—BSHM, Paramedic.
Anne Perry—clinical director at CareerCert, NRP, CET, CPT, LPN—adds, “Our social distancing for COVID-19 has shown what we have known for a very long time: online education makes sense for the student. . . . [It’s] seamless, easily accessible, and convenient. Often, students are more comfortable in online classes. . . . More questions are asked and more knowledge is shared.”
This ability to access learning in a safe, stress-free environment where providers are able to refresh skills and get real-time feedback bolsters retention and gives providers the practical experience they need to succeed in the field. In addition, the development of new technologies allows online education to be dynamic and multimodal in ways that reach and engage every style of learner.
But technology is not the only perk to online classrooms. Rick Campos—BEM, Paramedic—notes that “Now we are all exposed to the experiences of other emergency workers across the world. No longer are we being taught by the same instructor with the same answers to questions; we now have the ability to learn from instructors who have seen historic emergencies firsthand. This allows us to gain knowledge from speakers without having to go to symposiums that may have cost us or our departments thousands of dollars.”
We now have emerging information and the experience of industry experts, the entire breadth and depth of medical knowledge, at our fingertips.
No wonder the future of online education is so promising. “I think as we progress and improve our online capabilities and offerings, we will see a huge swing to more online/off-duty education,” says Marc Cohen—NRP, CCEMT-P, FF II, HAZMAT tech.
But the accessibility of a course doesn’t guarantee its quality. How can instructors reach a high-level of quality in every class they teach?
Cohen notes that one of the keys to engaging students in any classroom setting is variety: “Variety is the spice of life—and education!”
“Let’s be honest, how many times have we gone to a class only to be met with an instructor who is monotone, or the classroom is too hot or cold, or the material is extremely dry?” Campos says. “The online platform has to be engaging all the way around! . . . This is why, as an online CE provider, we must find topics that invigorate our students; we must deliver the information in a way that the student cannot wait to hear what comes up next.”
The ability to make industry-leading content accessible to larger audiences is one of the most exciting aspects of online learning. That’s why at CareerCert, as Perry says, “We strive to make certain that our content is relevant, up-to-date, and accurate. Because we truly care about what the students walk away with versus just checking a box. I feel our content and delivery provides a higher quality of care for patients across this great nation and better patient outcomes!”
“Medicine is constantly evolving and processes change,” Troxell notes. “It’s the job of our educators to make sure we are delivering the best content we can to assure that the providers we teach are delivering quality care to patients throughout the world.”
About changing treatment modalities, new equipment, and increasing knowledge, Minter highlights how the recent COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for dynamic training that can be updated and disseminated faster than ever before. “Obtaining current, up-to-date, evidence-based education will be desired by old and new students alike, and the impact will be better care for our patients,” he says.
That’s why, when it comes to life-saving care, the quality of education makes an enormous impact. “The quality of content and delivery is important, no, it is crucial to the potential outcomes for the students,” Campos says. “We are in the greatest career field in the world. We help people when they need us most, and sometimes we lose sight of that, and that’s okay, but I would like to think that instructors like myself bring back that passion.”
When it comes to finding industry-leading courses, certifications, and refreshers, departments and providers don’t need to research and track down all of this critical training on their own. At CareerCert, we bring together the best content, the best instructors, and the best tools so you can easily manage your online education in one place. “Departments only have to look to us for content experts; they do not have to wonder if they have brought in someone who is an expert in everything that needs to be taught. We have vetted those individuals and produced a product that endorses a high-level of quality,” Perry says.
She continues, “When students enjoy the learning experience and they receive high-quality, relevant, updated medical information, and they are able to receive it in a collaborative environment, I believe that it results in better patient outcomes, higher quality of care for patients, and more satisfaction for the provider! I feel as though we can create confidence in their competence as providers.”