Job Profile: Health Communications Specialist

 

One of the most important jobs in healthcare is the role of helping the public understands more about medical treatment in general. A health communications specialist works to make sure that people know as much as possible about the most reliable treatments being developed. In addition to helping people know more about the best ways in which they can be treated, health communication specialists also assist in fostering better disease prevention habits. With the help of a health communications specialist, people can gain the right kind of knowledge to know what the best lifestyle choices are for fostering their best state of health. Though a wealth of health information is freely accessible to the public online, there is also a great deal of misinformation. Health communications specialists help patients navigate the confusing sea of information and misinformation in order to separate fact from fiction. To communicate what they know to the public in the most effective manner, a health communication specialist will undergo training specifically aimed at abstracting their message concisely and clearly.

Salary

With moderate experience, the median annual salary for most communications specialists is approximately $52,000 a year.

Beginning Salary

The typical beginning salary for an entry-level communications specialist is around $30,000.

Key Responsibilities

Health communications specialist will need to stay on top of the latest information about the most serious health risks threatening the public. By remaining constantly informed about what the most urgent health risks are, health communication specialist can assist people in staying ahead of the curve. These specialists will oftentimes develop helpful print and digital materials that the public can use as an easily accessible information resource at all times. Though not necessarily advertisers by trade, health communication specialist will oftentimes create advertising campaigns share their message to a wider audience in a more compelling manner. In addition to distributing written material, specialists will also oftentimes conduct community workshops.

Necessary Skills

Health communications specialist needs not only need to able to communicate clearly, but compellingly; to accomplish this, they need to have genuine conviction in the value of what they are teaching their patients. It is essential for health communications specialists to be disciplined enough to practice they preach. Exemplifying the principles that they communicate gives effective health communications specialist the credibility to genuinely inspire those who learn from them.

Degree And Education Requirements

Health communications positions usually require at least a bachelor’s degree in communications. Though it isn’t necessary to earn a master’s, doing so can you help specialists have more opportunities for higher tiers of employment. In addition to the degree requirement, it’s common for employers to also require that health communications applicants have at least five years of prior experience.

Pros and Cons

Some of the most rewarding aspects of working in health communications are:

  • Assisting patients in knowing how to separate fact from fiction
  • Developing and maintaining positive relationships with the people, encouraging more accountability to follow through with what they’re taught
  • Acting as a more readily available, hands-on health information provider than those who can only be seen on an in-patient basis

Challenges in the health communications field are:

  • Having to compete with poorly researched health articles that may sacrifice credibility for sensationalism.
  • While health communications specialists can teach people a great deal about what it takes to be healthy, they cannot guarantee that those they teach will act accordingly.

Getting Started

The best way for prospective health communications specialist to prepare for the field is to start learning as much as they can about the most urgent health risk affecting the community at large. It isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single health issue that threatens the public, but understanding what the hottest topics are will be a great place to begin. Health communications specialists should also learn not only about what the most frequently queried health issues are, but exactly what resources the general public is using the most to learn more about health in general. By understanding exactly where it is that people are going to to learn more about the issues, communications specialists can have the right frame of reference to understand how their audience prefers to digest information. Health communications specialist would be well-advised to study the nature of effective advertising campaign development so that their messages consistently capture the public’s eyes. Just as in any other career, networking is useful for building up a network of references to give and receive to and from other professionals in the health industry.

Future Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts health communications specialist in the category health educators and community health workers. The projected job growth rate for the field of health communications by the year 2024 is about 13 percent, slightly faster than average. There were 115,700 health educators and community health worker jobs in the year 2014, and should the projected job growth rate come true, then there could be an employment change of as much is 15,600 within the next seven years. The projected rise in health communications specialist employment will be driven by a greater amount of effort put into improving health outcomes nationwide. The public has expressed a higher degree of interest in learning better ways to improve health through lifestyle habits, and health communications specialist will play a vital role in meeting this demand with more information given about how to leverage healthcare services effectively. Various aspects of health communications specialists’ services can be carried out by other healthcare providers such as dietitians, epidemiologists and even mental health counselors.

Summary

Even with the highest degree of health care provided by doctors, people still need to understand what the best lifestyle habits are that they can adopt to independently keep themselves in top shape. Health communications specialist serve play a vital role in making sure that the information people have about health habits and disease prevention is not only accurate, but actionable.

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