For many people in the United States, the advent of online education has opened a myriad of career opportunities within the healthcare industry. From degrees for pharmacy technicians to those for administrative and information management, online education providers claim to provide people with training that will make them immediately useful to employers.
That message seems to be resonating with their customers (students). In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently released a study showing that health professions and related programs are the most popular field of study among people pursuing online bachelor’s degrees. However, as talent professionals decide whether to hire graduates of these programs (and how to develop them if they’re hired), it’s important to consider whether these online degrees are everything they say they are.
As a whole, it does appear (at least anecdotally) that many healthcare companies see an online degree as an adequate qualification for joining their workforces. According to a July 2017 article from U.S. News & World Report, “experts say employers overall have become more accepting in recent years of accredited online degrees for nonphysician careers.”
The phrase “more accepting” doesn’t necessarily mean “embracing” here, though. According to the article, some employers remain skeptical about the skills of graduates from online programs “given the often hands-on nature of certain positions” and the amount of time many healthcare professionals spend interacting with patients in face-to-face settings.
That’s why, when healthcare organizations hire people with online degrees, it’s still important for talent development to design training that ensures these individuals are prepared for the rigors of daily patient interaction. This may be something that organizations incorporate into onboarding programs, but it also may be included as part of an ongoing training regimen.
When it comes to choosing a method for delivery of this training, talent development professionals should remember how individuals with online degrees thrive. In many cases, people succeed in these programs due to a strong sense of self-discipline and independence. These attributes may make it easier for them work through training at their own pace while still allowing them to interact with patients.
But relying completely on asynchronous e-learning is ill-advised. After all, if your training program is aimed at improving the face-to-face service skills of people who may not have experience in these situations, offering blended solutions with at least some classroom training components will likely be most beneficial.