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Graduate Certificate in Communicating in Healthcare

Communcation in Healthcare

The impact of communication on healthcare is unquestionable. Communication is at the heart of who we are as human beings. It not only informs us, but it has the power to transform beliefs, ideas, and behaviors; expand knowledge, and help us make better choices on an individual, national and global level.

This 12 credit hour certificate in Communicating in Healthcare focuses on that impact by examining interpersonal and organizational factors affecting healthcare. Graduates of the program learn how to maximize their efforts in compliance and advocacy through the development of communication strategies and skills.

This program represents the intersection of multiple disciplines, including health care, organizational communication, community education, marketing, and public relations. This broad representation means employment opportunities are vast.

Prospective students must complete an online application for admission, which is available through The Graduate School at WKU at wku.edu/graduate.

In addition to the online application, prospective students must also meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a graduate of an accredited college or university with a bachelor's degree or higher
  • Adequate preparation in the field of specialization is required

Other items to note regarding the admission process:

  • No GRE is required for admission to this certificate program.
  • Students who would like to pursue this certificate as part of their master's degree program may do so with approval from their primary advisor.
  • An application fee is required at the time application is submitted. 

Program Curriculum
The graduate certificate in Communicating in Healthcare requires completion of 12 credit hours, including 6 hours of core courses; 3 hours of restricted electives; 3 hours of free electives. Students who are pursuing this certificate as part of their master's degree program should consult their master's program advisor prior to selecting restricted and free electives.

Core Courses--6 hours
COMM 523: Health Communication
COMM 553: Health Communication Campaigns (New Course)

Restricted Elective--3 hours
COMM 528: Communication in the Nonprofit Sector
COMM 564: Crisis Communication
COMM 578: Seminar in Interpersonal Communication
COMM 581: Applied Organizational Communication
COMM 586: Processes of Group Communication
COMM 590: Intercultural Communication

Free Elective--3 hours
HCA 540: Health Care Organization and Management
HCA 541: Strategic Management and Marketing of Health Services
PH 548: Community Health Organizations
PH 564: Public Health Issues in Women's Health
PH 587: Health Behavior
GERO 501: Perspectives in Aging

The field of health communication represents the intersection of multiple disciplines, including health care, organizational communication, community education, marketing, and public relations. This broad representation offers vast employment opportunities.Graduates in the field have a variety of job opportunities with public, nonprofit and private companies and organizations. Whether you are working in the nonprofit sector, leading smoking cessation classes or in a leadership role at a major research hospital, educating and informing the public  in an effort  to promote public health and improve quality of life is the common goal. Those new to the field may work in outreach roles, and community education, while those with more experience may manage public relations for state health organizations, nonprofit groups or lead at the national level.

Professionals in this field can be employed with local or state health departments as well as federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health. Private companies - such as pharmaceutical manufacturers - and nonprofit organizations also hire health communication professionals.

Examples include:

  • A nonprofit professional communicating with a specific audience in the region, state or country about upcoming programs, support initiatives, newly approved medication, medical trials, government policy, and research breakthroughs (American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, March of Dimes, etc.)
  • Health communication strategists leading campaigns related to healthy living (healthy eating, nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation), which are often led by local health departments, community education organizations and city governments
  • Crisis communication specialists whose focus it is to launch regional, national or worldwide campaigns related on issues that pose an immediate threat, such as water contamination, MERSA, Ebola
  • Healthcare advocates in a variety of positions who work with clients to help them understand policies, procedures, self-care, etc. 

Job Outlook in Health Communication

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job opportunities for health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people about healthy habits and behaviors and utilization of available health care services. In May 2013, the median annual wage for health educators was $48,790. The median annual wage for community health workers was $34,620 in May 2013.

Other related opportunities are also expected to grow. For example, public relations specialists - which include health communicators - have a projected growth rate of 12%, which is average for all occupations, from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov).  The BLS reported public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $54,940 as of May 2013.

Additional information may be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Communication Department

Graduate Program Director: Dr. Angela Jerome
Email: anglea.jerome@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-3296
Website: wku.edu/communication/graduate_program/index.php

WKU Online

Email: learn.online@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-5173
Toll-Free: (888) 4WKUWEB / (888) 495-8932

The Graduate School

Email: graduate.school@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-2446
Website: wku.edu/graduate


For more information about the cost of the program, average time to complete the program, and other important information, please visit this website.

For more information about the program, fill out the form below.

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 Last Modified 1/10/20