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Health Communication

Students in the Health Communication module will explore the field of health communication in the age of digital and scientific advancement. Although the module will cover traditional health communication areas (e.g., provider and patient interaction, risk communication, health campaigns, etc.), it is designed with the most recent advances in healthcare and technology in mind. That is, principles of health communication will be applied and examined in the context of their impact on patient safety, individual and population health outcomes, and organizational workflow in healthcare systems.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop understanding of fundamental ideas relevant to health communication with mastery of principles of key theories and approaches from communication and related disciplines.
  • Describe and apply the process of message design and evaluation including key features of messaging and interaction that can influence outcomes.
  • Apply relevant analytic skills and knowledge from health communication to pressing issues in health related to patient safety, health of populations, and quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare.
  • Understand the role that different types of technologies play in health communication and how to design, implement, and evaluate these technologies.

Courses

Health Communication Course Requirements

Co-Curriclars

Recommended opportunities for application and practice on campus: 

There are many ways Health Communication Module students can gain valuable experience for application and practice. Some possibilities include: 

  • working in labs with faculty and graduate students on research projects, 
  • designing and implementing health-related technologies for on-campus organizations, 
  • participating in the design, evaluation and implementation of health-related interventions for on-campus organizations, 
  • practical engagement seminars focused on specific applications or skills, 
  • volunteering at one of the hospitals or clinics associated with Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

Recommended opportunities for projects, practicum, and internships off campus: 

Health Communication Module students seeking off campus experience can seek internships in relevant industry, governmental and nonprofit organizations (e.g., Erie Family Health Center, the American Hospital Association, Midwest Business Group on Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, AbbVie, UIC Hospital and Health Sciences System, Loyola University Health System, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, etc.). Many module faculty have contacts in these organizations and can help students establish connections. 

Community Building Activities  

Students and faculty affiliated with the Health Communication Module will be invited to talks in existing relevant speaker series (e.g., MTS, TSB, CCH, IPHAM), which all feature a regular program of experts in many aspects of health communication. Students from the module (per faculty recommendation) may be invited to meet with speakers in group meetings or over meals. 

Capstone projects will be presented at an annual poster session to be attended by module faculty and students, along with interested graduate students from TSB and MTS programs, and relevant members of the Northwestern and larger community. 

A quarterly lunch meeting will be held for module students to meet with the module coordinator, advising staff, and one or two module faculty members. The purpose of these meetings will be to update students on new courses and other goings on, allow them to ask questions, and provide a forum for informal faculty interaction. 

Students will be encouraged by the Module Coordinator to form a “Health Communication Student Association” to plan and host events such as panels to introduce faculty who may have capstone opportunities, discussing internship experiences/possibilities, discussing relevant courses within and outside of the module, etc. 

Capstone

The Health Communication Module Capstone Experience has three components: 

  • Narrative reflection paper (5-7 pages, double spaced): This paper provides an opportunity for you to reflect on what you learned in the courses taken for the module, as well as any relevant experiences you had (final projects, lab work, internships, and so on). The narrative should include (a) a coherent narrative of module-related work that identifies thematic connections between coursework and practical experiences and (b) a description of how module-related work ties in with future career or educational goals. 
  • Online portfolio: You should create an online portfolio to showcase module-related work. Your online portfolio should (a) provide a personal introduction / biography that orients the viewer, (b) outline and describe each of the significant projects and experiences you have completed in conjunction with the module, and (c) include copies of relevant research papers, presentations, or projects that you worked on during module coursework. You are encouraged to include any other materials that demonstrates how the module experience has contributed to learning, self-development, or social change. 
  • Spring Poster session: In the spring quarter of every year, there will be a poster session featuring the work of students who completed their capstone projects that year. This is an opportunity for students to share what they’ve accomplished with faculty and other module-affiliated students, as well as their interaction with the industry board. 

Capstone projects are due on the 5th Friday of the spring quarter following the one in which the student completed their module course requirements. They will be reviewed by module affiliated faculty. Projects will not be assigned a letter grade; rather, students will be given feedback and comments on their work. Since projects will be archived and viewed later by the alumni advisory board, students will in most cases be asked to make revisions to their project based on the feedback given, even if they have officially ‘passed’ their module requirement. 

Projects are to be submitted via email to the module coordinator (Kimberly Pusateri). Please ensure that all files are converted to pdf to ensure ease of sharing and reading on all operating systems. 

Sponsoring Department: Communication Studies

Module Coordinator: Kimberly Pusateri

Instructional Committee: Bruce Lambert, Courtney Scherr, Nathan Walter

Module Advisor: Sarah Syversen

How to Enroll 

Open to all SoC majors. 

Students applying to the health communication module should complete the pre-requisite course, COMM ST 246-0: Introduction to Health Communication, which is offered each spring. Please apply to the module in fall quarter by downloading the declaration form, printing a copy of the form, and completing it. After completing the declaration form, students should arrange an appointment with Sarah Syversen, the Health Communication module advisor, by calling 847-491-7214. The purpose of the meeting is to confirm applicants’ eligibility, review requirements of the module, and answer students’ questions about the module. Please bring your completed declaration with you to the advisor meeting.