Health Communication program ignites the Arts

Gannon University has added a new Master of Arts in Health Communication program that is set to begin in fall 2015.

The program is designed to prepare students for careers in professional communication settings such as community-based agencies, hospitals, nonprofit organizations and government. In this program students will learn about cultural and political issues impacting the study of human communication, for example.

Garret Smith, a junior advertising communication major, said he thinks the new program is a really good opportunity for any health profession students who are interested in a career that involves health care and communications.

“But I think it’s more geared toward those health care students than communication students, because they have health care knowledge necessary for those types of jobs that communication majors probably won’t have,” he said.

That being said, the program is expected to pave the way for career fields such as health care education, fundraising and grant writing, medical journalism and marketing and pharmaceutical package design and instruction-writing, which do appear to be more health care founded than communication based.

In order for a new program to be approved at Gannon, it must go through the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences Academic Affairs Committee, the Graduate Council, the University Academic Affairs Committee, the Provost Council chaired by Dr. Carolynn Masters and finally the President’s Staff headed by President Keith Taylor, Ph.D.

Only after it has been seen by each of these councils will a program be approved, and this Health Communication master’s program wasn’t pushed straight through, either.

Brent Sleasman,Ph. D., an associate professor of Communication and the Arts, who was instrumental in the creation of the program, said the program had to go through the President’s Council twice.

“After the first proposal they (President’s Council) wanted to see more,” he said, “so we went out and surveyed and spoke with students, and after we did that research and made some changes, they approved the second proposal.”

This Master of Arts in Health Communication graduate program, which was first proposed in fall 2013, was finally approved at a Board of Trustees meeting in September following a presentation by AJ Miceli, the director of the School of Communication and the Arts.

Miceli, who was also quite instrumental in the entire creation and approval process of this program, explained the motivation behind the program a bit further.

“The Master of Arts in Health Communication builds on two of Gannon’s strengths, combining the School of Communication and the Arts with Gannon’s respected health profession programs,” he said. “We expect the demand for health communicators to grow…as the population ages and as health issues dominate public discourse.”

Sleasman, on the other hand, explained what he feels the program can exclusively offer Gannon students involved in the program.

“Students with this master’s will have more to offer their employers, and they will bring something distinctively ‘Gannon’ to the table,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing for our school as well as the health industry.”

Undergraduate students interested in the Master of Arts in Health Communication program are invited to attend an information session in the Center for Communication and the Arts from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5.

Contact Sleasman with any questions at [email protected]


[email protected]