Overview of a Certificate in Digital Health Communication
Reaching key audiences for health communication programs and campaigns is no longer as simple as distributing a monthly newsletter or quarterly magazine. In today's high-speed world, technological resources are the first place most people turn to be informed. A graduate certificate in digital health communication can help you develop the writing skills and social media mastery you might need to succeed. Many colleges and universities - often institutions with public health degree programs - offer this certificate. Students will likely research and analyze data about the impact of new digital media resources and master the skills needed to use this technology in health communication. Further details about this certificate are presented below.
Admission Requirements for Digital Health Communication Certificate Programs
Common requirements for admission into digital health communication certificate programs are a letter of recommendation, a resume or curriculum vitae, and a transcript from an accredited college or university indicating completion of a bachelor's degree. Depending on the institution, you may have to submit up to three recommendations. Applications may also require that students indicate their professional career goals and their reason for seeking a certificate in digital health communication. Given the admission requirements, the majority of students pursuing this certificate have at least a few years of experience or are mid-career professionals who want to enhance their knowledge.
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Digital Health Communication Certificate Coursework
Students in a digital health communication certificate program will often be required to think critically about digital media tools that best serve their target audience with clear, appropriate, and persuasive content. The following types of courses are commonly included in such programs.
Communicating Science: Writing to be Understood
Since health information is science based, there is often a tendency to either write from a comprehension level that is too advanced or too simplified for audiences. Finding that middle ground of communicating enough scientific information that can be understood and is compelling enough to engage readers is often the goal of this type of course. Case studies to demonstrate examples of how to write about health topics for a public audience may be incorporated.
Social Media and Health
Understanding the use of social media in terms of health communication entails more than writing compelling copy. This course can help students think strategically about how to select the best social media tools to reach a target audience. Aside from an overview of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other digital platforms, case studies may be offered.
Advancing Health Literacy
Which social media platform to use is not the only consideration when implementing health digital communication. The degree to which people have the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information is vital to their decision making. This course could raise awareness about the role of language and culture when reaching different segments of society. Students might use a variety of resources such as lectures, reading materials, group discussions, and exercises.
Foundations of Health Communication
While healthcare-related organizations have some degree of autonomy to choose how to disseminate health information and the tools they will use to do so, they must be mindful of the boundaries set by government regulations. This course could offer information about how health (health promotion, risks, care, etc.) is communicated to various audiences by doctors, and hospitals, in addition to government and non-government organizations.
Before the appropriate digital media tool can be selected, health communicators must first have an understanding of public health theories and principles. This sort of course might evaluate theories related to behavioral and social change, sociology, and anthropology. Such a class could help prepare students to design, implement, and evaluate health communication interventions within a process-oriented framework within the non-profit, corporate, academic, and government sectors.
How to Choose a Digital Health Communication Certificate Program
Since this certificate is usually meant to provide communication skills in two subject areas - health and digital media - one point to evaluate is how strongly the program supports both. If it is very strong on health topics, but provides limited opportunities to learn about social media tools, that may leave students in a knowledge deficit when it comes to using Twitter, Facebook, etc. An ideal digital health communication certificate program may be one that is a collaboration between an institution's school of public health and school of journalism. Another point to evaluate might be the faculty of the program, who should have knowledge of how digital platforms help health communications to succeed. Research the opportunities available for professional development, career resources, and networking within the institution's school of public health and/or journalism. Finally, some institutions offer certificate graduates the opportunity to have the credits they earn transferred to the master's degree in health communication program, which may be of interest.
Career Options with a Certificate in Digital Health Communication
With a certificate in digital health, graduates could be qualified to create and implement a strategy for an organization's online presence. Students in this program may find the knowledge they acquire suitable for a variety of fields such as consulting, hospitals and healthcare systems, pharmaceuticals, biotech, government, and public health, with the core skills resting in public relations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the public relations field is expected to grow 9% from 2016-2026, and the BLS cites a median annual salary of $59,300 in 2017 for professionals in this field. Similar occupations for digital health communication certificate graduates are listed below.