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Grand Valley State University    
  Feb 20, 2018
2013-2014 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Health Communication - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the School of Communication web site.

Director: Thompson. Professor Nesterenko; Assistant Professor Kong; Affiliate Professor Jager.


The need for professional communicators in the health care industry has never been greater or more urgent. This industry, one of the largest in the United States, is expanding. It is also changing, so that the nature of health care delivery in the 21st century will be drastically different from what it is today.

Hospital-based health care under the supervision of a physician in private practice is being replaced by a complex system of health maintenance organizations (HMOs). These old and new components of health care, in keen competition with each other, have turned to techniques used by other industries. They are retailing their services to the public, using marketing, advertising, direct sales, public relations, and information activities.

The health communicator has the vital role of facilitating communications between aware but technically naive consumers and a system that is operated by highly skilled, deeply educated technical professionals whom the public does not fully understand. Thus, the skills and competency of the health communicator have become central to the success of the health care industry and, indeed, to its success in maintaining wellness and conquering disease.

Health communicators are well-educated college graduates who have a foundation in biomedical sciences and who understand the principles and techniques of human communication. They are adept at written and visual communication and are skilled in public relations, advertising, and marketing. Health communicators also know the health care industry and its markets of potential patients.

Career Opportunities

The health communication curriculum at Grand Valley State University prepares students for careers in the health care industry and allows sufficient flexibility for them to emphasize one or more communication areas. An internship (COM 490) in the field of health communication is required, providing students with professional experience.

Note: The health communication major requires COM 201 to be taken in the School of Communications core.

The following program is available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Health Communication