Earning a college degree through an online program is an excellent choice for many people. If you are working full-time, have a family to take care of, are unable to relocate or have another obligation that prevents you from attending courses on a college campus, an online program may be the only option you have to further your education and your career. However, many degree programs require clinical experience in the form of a residency, internship or practicum. If you have chosen to enroll in an online college degree program for the convenience of completing your coursework off-campus, you may wonder what you will have to do to get the clinical experience you need to graduate and begin your new career.

Programs that Might Require Clinical Experience

Healthcare is a rapidly-growing field, according to The Atlantic, so it’s no surprise that many people are going to school to become qualified to work in the healthcare industry in some role. However, these programs also are the ones most likely to require some sort of internship experience, like a clinical experience or residency. Some of the degree programs that commonly have these requirements include:

  • Audiology
  • Diagnostic medical sonography
  • Medical assisting
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Radiologic technology
  • Speech-language pathology

Certain degree programs outside of the healthcare industry also require some sort of hands-on experience. For example, education majors must typically complete a student teaching experience.

Fulfilling Clinical Experience Requirements in Online Degree Programs

Different online schools and programs handle clinical training requirements in different ways. For example, some programs use technology to prepare students for internship experiences. They may allow students to complete part of their training through online simulations but still require some hands-on experience. Some programs may require students to travel to a specific facility site for a period of time, while others maintain partnerships with many facilities across the country and allow students to choose where to complete their training. In certain degree programs, such as some RN-to-BSN programs that allow Registered Nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree, completion of prior clinical experience for a previous degree may fulfill training requirements. Still other programs recommend types of facilities and allow students to arrange their own clinical internships. Advisors can often help students understand their options and choose a clinical experience opportunity that will work for them.

Hands-on training plays an important role in career preparation, especially in industries such as healthcare. Professionals in these positions can have a direct impact on the health of patients, so they must know how to properly perform procedures, use medical equipment and interact with patients. Likewise, teachers are not only educating students, but are also shaping their futures. They have a responsibility to act in ways that are appropriate. Learning how to manage a classroom, provide nursing care or assist patients with their psychological concerns requires more than studying a textbook. It calls for real-world training under the supervision of experienced professionals.