Health Communication FAQ

  1. Why a specialized track in health communication?
  2. When must I decide about this track?
  3. What are the courses for Health Communication?
  4. What is the course sequence for the second year of this track?
  5. How do the professional track courses differ from the Health Communication?
  6. Are the classes held on our campus or UAMS?
  7. What types of career directions open up with this track?
  8. Who do I contact for additional information?

Why a specialized track in Health Communication?

For over 20 years this M.A. program has encouraged students to tailor their program through the use of their electives, projects in their classes, and their final project to their learning goals. While we will maintain this focus as we have students seeking a number of applications, from training and development to management to research, we saw the need to offer our first specialized track option considering the present day community wide need for health communication training. We have typically had several students with specific interest in working in health organizations. Over the last few years, a growing need in the health care field combined with faculty expertise, resulted in this health communication option.

When must I decide about this track?

Ideally, students can let us know about their choice of health track before the start of the program. However, students can wait until the end of their first semester to select to move into this alternative track. We do encourage students to notify the graduate program coordinator before the start of the Fall semester for our planning purposes.

What are the courses for Health Communication?

The health communication curriculum expects that a student complete 15 credit hours of core courses and 15 credit hours of elective courses and a 3-hour Master’s paper.

Core Courses: The core courses would be offered at the Speech communication department. Following is the description of the core courses.

a. Communication Theory (SPCH 7301): Basic theoretical approaches to human communication; includes symbolic interactionism, systems, rules, linguistics, relational, and rhetorical theories.

b. Organizational Communication (SPCH 7321): Theoretic overview of organizational communication; includes communication flow, networks, organizational relationships, groups, conflict, language.

c. Health /Interpersonal Communication (SPCH 7302): Provides an overview of better understanding the role of interpersonal communication. Special attention is paid to application of theory to personal and professional contexts of dyadic communication.

d. Crisis Communication (SPCH 7350): This course emphasizes the role of communication in identifying potential risk, handling crises and resolving these events. Issues like crisis planning, crisis leadership, and risk communication are covered.

Other Courses: Additional courses are being developed and constitute 15 credit hours and would be offered through the Speech Communication Department, Mass Communication Department at UALR and the College of Public Health at UAMS. The students start enrolment in the beginning third semester into the program. Following is the description of the proposed courses.

a. Introduction to Public Health (PBHL 5003): An introduction to basic and contemporary issues of public health, including tools of community-based health assessment, surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention, policy, and ethics will be presented. This course provides an overview in the diverse areas of public health practice.

b. The Health Care System (PBHL 5123): Analysis of system-wide issues related to the delivery of health in the United States, including organizational arrangements, financing, health status issues, health insurance, health manpower, cost of health care, quality of health care, access and regulatory issues.

c. Management of Health Care Organizations (PBHL 5143): Analysis of administrative practices in health organizations, including governmental agencies, health care institutions, and community clinics, with emphasis on administrative structure, roles of professionals and staff, and the health policy applicable to each.

d. Theories of Health Behavior and Health Education (PBHL 5653): Addresses the social and behavioral foundations of public health; emphasis on social and cultural determinants that shape behavior through complex interaction; presents a socio-ecological framework for understanding the relationship between human populations and health status; locates health problems in the context of multilayered social systems and temporal processes of change.

e. Health Communication (PBHL 5783): This course provides students with an in-depth exposure to current theory, practice and research in health communication with an emphasis on designing, implementing and evaluating mass media and community-based health campaigns. Topics covered include Social Marketing, Media Advocacy, Entertainment Education, and Participatory Learning in addition to traditional social-psychological theoretical approaches to risk reduction and health enhancing communication.

f. Health Campaigns (7745 Adapted from PR Campaigns): Students investigate the strategic use of the media by the health communicator in message development, campaign design and effective presentation. The effective use of public relations in influencing target audiences on the local, state, and national levels are explored.

g. Health Communication and Technology (Proposed): Students are introduced to the use of technologies to formulate effective strategies in health communication. They gain knowledge and skills in basic Internet and World Wide Web literacy, database searching, storage and retrieval, and advanced presentation graphics skills. Legal and ethical issues of new technologies also are covered.

What is the course sequence for the second year of this track?

The department foresees students moving through the two year program in the following manner. However, realize that courses are subject to change depending on the availability of faculty.

Health Communication Track: Example Two Year Plan

Fall – First Year
SPCH 7301 Human Communication Theory
SPCH 7321 Organizational Communication Theory

Spring – First Year
SPCH 7302 Health/Interpersonal Communication
SPCH 7350 Crisis Communication

Summer – First Year
PBHL 5003 Introduction to Public Health

Fall – Second Year
SPCH 7320 Communication Change and Information Diffusion

one of the following two
PBHL 5653 Theories of Health Behavior and Health Education
PBHL 5123 Health Care Systems

Spring – Second Year
PBHL 5783 Health Communication
PBHL 5143 Management of Health Care Organizations

Summer – Second Year
A final required project
During the end of the first Spring semester in the program, students put together a prospectus/plan of work to help them put the rest of their curriculum. The program allows students to tailor projects in courses and their final project for their professional goals.

How do the professional track courses differ from the Health Communication?

In year one, the first semester is the same. In second semester, students take the Crisis Communication course and some may elect to take SPCH 7322 (Communication and Culture). In the second year, you should arrange to determine courses with Dr. Thombre, our Health Communication Track coordinator.

Are the classes held on our campus or UAMS?

The core class will be offered on UALR campus with other elective courses offered on the UAMS, College of Public Health campus.

What types of career directions open up with this track?

Career choices and options of our graduates exist in both the non-profit and profit-making worlds as viable alternatives for those with graduate training in health communication. Traditional sectors typically associated with health communication such as public health agencies (federal and state like Center for Disease Control and Prevention to Arkansas Health department), hospitals, educational institutions, and nonprofit advocacy and voluntary organizations. However, the corporate sector also is a common path for health communication graduates to follow. (e.g., the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry; advertising, marketing, or PR agencies; health insurance companies; information technology industry). Thus, a master’s degree in health communication degree provides an entrée to a wide range of career options.

Who do I contact for additional information?

Dr. Avinash Thombre, via email or at 501-683-7026