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    The Pros & Cons of Online First Aid Courses

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    About the author

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    Dr. Mary Williams, R.N., D.C is a Doctor of Chiropractic with an extensive background as a Registered Nurse and experienced Core Instructor for the American Heart Association. She has over 30 years of hands-on medical and instructional experience.

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    If you’re looking to learn first aid, the options in front of you may seem overwhelming. But in reality you have three options: in-person training, online training, or a hybrid version. All of these have their own pros and cons, but online first aid training has risen in popularity over the years, especially after the pandemic. If you’re considering taking a first aid course online, here’s a look at the pros and cons.

    How does online first aid training work?

    Generally, first aid classes online consist of video modules teaching various first aid concepts, followed by a test that determines whether you pass. The course may also include other forms of multimedia learning, such as quizzes, games, audio lectures, written course material, and more.

    Sometimes, first aid training is a stand-alone course. But it can also be bundled in with other types of training such as CPR and AED training, BLS training, bloodborne pathogens, and more. Some courses have specific focuses as well—for instance, first aid for children or adults, first aid for laypeople, or first aid for medical professionals.

    Not all first aid programs offer a certification, but some do—especially if they’re part of online CPR classes, BLS, or other certification program. If your program includes certification, you will earn it after you pass the test. Usually you will receive a digital version right away, and a card mailed to you.

    Benefits of first aid classes online

    There are many benefits to taking first aid classes online that make it an attractive prospect, especially for those who work full time. Here are some of the most commonly cited benefits.

    It’s flexible and fits your schedule. Unlike an in-person course that requires you to be somewhere for roughly 6-8 hours, an online training program is self-paced and is easy to fit around your schedule. You can take the courses at night, in the morning, on your lunch break, or even standing in line at the bank if you’re using an app on your phone.

    You don’t need to go to a classroom. Another benefit is that you don’t need to drive or travel somewhere in order to attend classes. You can take the course at home, at your office on a break, or anywhere else that’s convenient to you.

    Cost savings. Online first aid courses tend to be less expensive than in-person courses. In-person courses tend to have more overhead—renting space for a classroom, chairs and equipment, and other supplies as long as pay for the teacher. Online first aid courses are less expensive to run and that savings tends to be passed on to students.

    But in addition to the course itself and the materials, you also save money in commuting costs, eating out while you’re outside the house, and other costs.

    Variety of learning styles. One thing students report liking about online first aid training is the variety of learning styles they cater to. Depending on the course, you may have various types of training formats including video, audio, reading materials, interactive features such as games and quizzes, and more.

    Cons of online first aid training

    That said, there are some challenges that come along with taking a first aid course online that may make an in-person class a better option for some. These include:

    Structure and accountability. For some, it can help to have a place to be at a certain time in order to get the training done. If it’s difficult for you to have the motivation to get the training done on your own, a class structure where you show up at a specific place and get your training done all in one day or over a few days may be ideal.

    Lack of feedback from an instructor. Some online courses include opportunities to ask questions and communicate via chat or email with an instructor, but not all do. In a classroom setting, you get instant feedback on your performance and can hone your technique in real time. You can also ask questions of the instructor in the moment.

    Lack of hands-on training. Some online courses include a hands-on skills component, but this is usually in person, making it more of a hybrid course. If you’re taking a class entirely online, you may not have the opportunity to practice your skills in a hands-on setting.

    Less communication with fellow students. Some people learn well on their own, but others learn best while working with others—and the camaraderie of being in a classroom with other students, all focused on the same goal, can provide a motivational boost. If that’s the case for you and you still want to take an online first aid course, look for one with an online discussion forum that allows you to connect with other students.

    Will your employer accept an online first aid certification?

    Sometimes, the type of first aid training program you choose can be dependent on what your employer will accept. Some employers only accept in-person training, training from certain providers, or training with a hands-on skills test component.

    That said, online training has become more widely accepted, especially in the wake of the pandemic when online training programs had to do some heavy lifting to replace in-person classes in teaching necessary medical skills.

    These days, online CPR classes are widely accepted across industries in all 50 states, including for medical professionals. Recent studies show that students learn just as well in online formats as in in-person classrooms, and even the American Heart Association—the organization that sets the standard for first aid and CPR training—offers online CPR classes.

    That said, it’s never a bad idea to ask your employer if you’re not sure whether they will accept a first aid or CPR training course online. If they’ve never used one before, it’s possible that they will if you can show that the program is high quality, and some course providers will talk to your employer and explain the benefits of their training so the employer can make an informed decision.

    Is online first aid training right for you? This depends on a lot of factors—how you learn best, your schedule and motivation levels, your reason for taking the course, and what your employer will accept—if you’re taking the course as a job requirement. Consider all of these factors, and you’ll likely be able to choose the course that’s right for you.


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