Sometimes I wonder if medical school could be taught online or even be entirely self-directed. More often than not, I find myself utilizing outside sources to supplement my learning. For example, I basically learned all of microbiology through Sketchy Micro. I’m learning relevant pathology by using Pathoma. I use Khan Academy to re-learn physiology and to learn about disease processes. I’ve used YouTube to understand anatomy. And if we’re being completely honest, these sources do a better job (in my opinion) than medical school at 1) presenting relevant information, 2) organizing the information, 3) making the information easy to understand, and 4) allowing for easy accessibility. I love that these resources are concise—there is absolutely no fluff. Everything I need to do well on the boards is right in front me. This gets rid of the variability of instruction in medical school; sometimes you get an instructor that is unclear, hard to understand, or the information is not optimally organized so that it’s difficult to put things together. I can confidently say that without these outside sources, I would have not done well in medical school.
However, there are some that would point out the drawbacks to this idea. First of all, some may argue that for a class like anatomy, you need the experience of anatomy to truly understand the subject. Personally, I do not agree with this. You can understand spatial relationships through online 3D modeling and anatomy software. Additionally, I highly doubt that working on a cadaver has any benefits to those considering surgery.
There are, however, two aspects of medical school that I think online schooling could not adequately prepare me for: group work and doctoring. Since medicine is a group endeavor, online courses may not foster that type of experience—although I do think that this can be remedied through video chat rooms. The doctoring course though, absolutely requires being physically at an institution. Interacting with actor patients, real patients, and learning physical exam skills all have physical interaction as a requirement. So theoretically, perhaps an online medical school could have doctoring sessions at local areas!