It’s no big secret that entering the health field is one of the best ways to take advantage of a wide range of professional and personal benefits. But for those who want to enjoy the benefits the field offers without providing bedside care, choosing a career is tricky. Becoming a health communications specialist is one option worth considering, and something that could give you exactly what you want out of a career.
The health communication field is very diverse, and becoming a specialist within it will mean different things depending on where you live, who your employer is, and what you hope to do. Read on to find out more about this important and quickly growing career opportunity.
What Is a Health Communications Specialist?
A health communications specialist is someone who works to help others understand more about medical treatment, health lifestyle choices, disease prevention, and more. They focus primarily on spreading information to the public that can have an overall impact on the health and wellbeing of the population. It’s much like a marketing position, only instead of trying to sell a product, the focus of the health communications specialist is on boosting health awareness.
Potential job duties will vary, but are likely to include the following things:
- Analyze public health risks or concerns to determine what areas need improvement
- Design printed materials that educate about health issues and distribute them to the community
- Create ad campaigns that help increase public knowledge of health related risks and solutions
- Use the internet and other forms of mass media to help influence public policy and to help educate the public about various health and wellness issues
- Conduct workshops to improve overall understanding and management of health issues
- Issue press releases about emergencies or about crisis related issues in the community health field
- Analyze current programs and initiatives and determine how health communication efforts can be changed for better results
- Measure overall outcomes of all efforts above and adjust as needed
Obviously, it’s a very diverse and unique job and as such you’ll need a wide range of skills in order to thrive. It can be very rewarding, however, both professionally and personally.
Some personal traits and characteristics can have a major impact on your ability to excel in the job. If you’re considering entering the field, be sure you have strengths in the following areas.
- Confidence – You’ll need to have faith in your abilities since you’ll be in charge of various things that can have a direct impact on the health of the public.
- Good Communication Skills – Obviously, working in the communications field requires good communication capabilities. You’ll want to make sure that you have good written and verbal communication skills.
- Good Organization – The job requires careful examination and consideration of a wide range of different things. As a result, being able to organize effectively is important.
Nature of the Work
The job is primarily an office based one, and most of your time will be spent on a computer analyzing information and designing new strategies, programs, and initiatives. You may develop social media programs, work on commercials in print or video, and develop reports on your efforts’ effectiveness. You may also leave the office from time to time for meetings, or to attend conferences or seminars around the country. Working as a health communication specialist will take you to numerous places and allow you to enjoy some of the most diverse work in the field of public health.
Common employers are government agencies, but some nonprofit organizations as well as schools or news networks may also hire health communications specialists.
Education and Training
Health communications specialists will often have different paths into the field. Usually, a bachelor’s degree in health communications is the primary entry point. Master’s degrees in the field are also possible and will enhance your ability to find employment. Usually, employers also require at least 5 years of experience in health care or business communication. The specific requirements will vary depending on your employer. Training will include work with word processing, multimedia design software, social media use, and more.
Salaries vary just as much as educational requirements, and average salaries range from between $51,000 and $97,000 per year. Pay will be based on location, employer, and your experience and education levels.