The Health Communication Spark
By Mike Mackert
Almost everyone I know who works in health communication can point to one moment that really ignited their passion for health communication as a field.
Like many things in life, I fell into health communication by accident. I didn’t go to grad school to study health communication. When I started my MA program, I was hired to work on a telehospice research project, which was studying the efficacy of using videophones (running over landlines!) to provide remote hospice care in rural Michigan. I was initially drawn to the technology. Then I started to hear stories of how the technology was enabling better communication between hospice patients, their families and caregivers, and their providers. The end result was dramatically improved end of life care for the hospice patients, driven by better communication. I was hooked.
Right now I have students working on a project with the Youth Recovery Network, a nonprofit working on substance misuse and recovery among youth. Last night I got an e-mail from a student. He had to share that as they were working on the project they made a “personal connection” (his words) with the mother of a child in recovery. His excitement about the connection they made, what they learned, and what it meant for their work on the project was incredible. It was one of the greatest e-mails I’ve ever received from a student.
I honestly have no idea yet what the students will do with what they learned. They’ll be presenting Monday. But I truly hope these students had that same kind of moment because the passion for health communication can appear any time and then last a lifetime.