Ashland, Ohio October 01, 2013 - Ashland University has developed the only undergraduate health and risk communication program in the U.S. The program is for people interested in health and safety careers, giving them the necessary skills to effectively message to publics who are vulnerable, at risk or in crisis situations.
Ashland University has developed a new undergraduate degree program in health and risk communication, the only program of its kind in the nation.
People interested in health and safety careers will gain the necessary skills to effectively message to publics who are vulnerable, at risk or in crisis situations. These skills sets are critical in modern day society and as natural and man-made crises will continue to occur, effective messaging is critical to keeping the public and organizations safe.
According to Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair and professor in the Department of Communication Studies, the health and risk communication program at Ashland University focuses on two of todays fastest growing industries — health and safety.
Health communication deals with the interpersonal aspects of patient-provider interaction, the team aspects of healthcare delivery as well as the development and execution of healthcare campaigns. Risk communication is a separate entity that deals with the identification of potential threats, the addressing of current threats or crises, and eventually, threat containment and threat mitigation.
The new undergraduate degree is housed in AUs Department of Communication Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences, yet has students taking courses across three colleges throughout the university.
“Traditionally, health and risk communication have been treated as separate areas of study. However, in the post 9/11 environment, we are learning that health and safety are inextricably linked, you cannot separate those two anymore”, says Dr. Daniela Rodriguez, assistant professor of the Department of Communication Studies. “So while many communication studies programs continue to address these areas as separate, here at Ashland what we have done is created a program that reflects the current and future demands of the health and safety sectors” concludes Dr. Rodriguez.
With a focus on communication theory, research, and application, the AU program prepares students for a variety of careers that include health communication specialist, risk manager, director of communication and public affairs, communication project specialist, security specialist, director of external affairs, health communication training and development officer, safety training, and as a pre-professional program for students focused on medical school or other terminal degrees in health.
Employment projections by the United States Department of Labors Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a 24 percent growth in demand over the next five years in the communication studies field.
The major in health and risk communication prepares students with the skills and training that ensures the public is well informed in the event of a crisis. The role of communication is central to saving lives and to informing the public. The quality of information and the time it takes to convey it from first responders to emergency room doctors can make the difference between a life saved and a life lost. Just this summer, individuals in 15 states experienced flu-like symptoms associated with cyclospora contamination in bagged lettuce. Communication professionals are essential to providing the public with accurate information.
Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Reports National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
01/10/2013 JOURNAL OF RISK AND CRISIS COMMUNICATION