Required Courses

HCOM502 Epidemiology - Biostatistics Reading and Interpreting the Medical Literature (1 credit) Lectures and group discussions introduce students to the concepts and methods of epidemiology and biostatistics. The content covers basic methods for measuring disease frequency and for quantifying relationships between determinants of health and medical/public health outcomes. Applying this knowledge, students will learn to critically evaluate the medical literature.

HCOM504 Introduction to Medicine (1 credit) This course is a survey of clinical medicine as it is practiced by biomedically-trained physicians and other health care providers. During the first half of the course, students are introduced to basic human physiology, pathophysiology and the fundamentals of clinical medicine including history taking, the physical examination, diagnostic testing and modern therapeutics. The second half of the course is designed to apply this information to the most prevalent diseases that plague the developed world. Issues pertaining to population medicine and public health, health promotion and disease prevention, behavioral influences on health and alternative medicine are also covered in the context of applicable disease states.

HCOM508 Technology and Design for Public Health (0.5 credit) This course explores the role of technology and software programs used to create health communication materials. At some point in your career as a health communicator, you will likely be asked to 1) create something (promotional materials, an online video, or a website); 2) hire someone to create something; or 3) oversee someone or a group of people who will create something. As a health communication professional, familiarizing yourself with technology and design terms and concepts will help you communicate effectively with designers, developers, videographers, printers, photographers, and other creative professionals. Each creative discipline has its own language, and during this course you will gain the skills and confidence to communicate with creatives, clients, contractors, and colleagues. We will pay particular attention to balancing the design/development process with technical terminology and skills. Core software includes Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, though we will explore basic features in WordPress and advance features in Microsoft Word. During this class, we will also explore eHealth trends in creating online communication (video and web). This 7-week course will be a blended learning experience, with three classes taught in person and four taught online via WebEx. Additional lab sessions and one-on-one assistance will be made available for additional support and assistance with the computer programs used in the class.

HCOM511 Writing About Health and Medicine (0.5 credit) Effective health communicators can write for a variety of lay audiences and produce clear, accurate and appropriate content. This course is designed to develop basic skills for researching and writing about health and medicine-related topics for the public. We expect students to enter the course with varying writing experience. Through a series of individual and collaborative exercises students will further develop their writing, revision and editing skills. By the end of the course students should be well on their way to developing a clear, fluent, and readable style using plain language principles. Assignments include writing a fact sheet, research summary, and feature article. Please note that HCOM 511 is not a remedial writing course. Students whose writing is less than graduate level should enroll in a remedial writing course prior to enrollment in HCOM 511. Substitutions: NUTR229: Introduction to Writing About Nutrition and Health Communication; HCOM513: Writing for Public Health Professionals.

HCOM513 Writing for Public Health Professionals (0.5 credit) This course will teach the skills necessary to write documents essential to public health professionals, including a slide presentation, executive summary, and literature review. Students will develop skills to write clear, strategic, and accurate workplace documents. We expect students to enter the course with varying writing experience. Through a series of individual and collaborative exercises students will further develop their writing, revision and editing skills. Please note that HCOM 513 is not a remedial writing course. Students whose writing is less than graduate level should enroll in a remedial writing course prior to enrollment in HCOM 513. Substitutions: HCOM511: Writing About Health and Medicine; NUTR229: Introduction to Writing About Nutrition and Health Communication. 

HCOM522 Changing Health Behaviors: Healthy People and Communities (1 credit) Students are provided with an overview of how health interventions are developed and evaluated. The course takes a social ecological approach and emphasizes the role of community engagement in health promotion. We begin with discussion of the social determinants of health and the scientific basis for understanding individual health behavior. Drawing on theory and practice, students learn how program planners conduct needs assessments, set goals and objectives, develop intervention materials and messages, and evaluate outcomes. Students work in teams to develop a proposal in response to a grant solicitation.  

HCOM544 Professional Communication (0.5 credit) The course is designed to provide students with knowledge, experience, and practical skills in public presentations. Students will learn how to organize, research, support, and deliver impromptu, informative, and persuasive presentations, as well as manage a press conference in a simulated crisis situation. Through lectures, discussions, exercises, applications, and written assignments, students will be able to increase their communication competence so that they can communicate more effectively in their field now and in the future.

HCOM548 Applications of Communication Theory to Health Communication (1 credit) Health communication is primarily concerned with the role of theory, research, and practice in health promotion, education, and delivery. Students will investigate the theory on the social construction of illness, the role of language in creating beliefs about health, theory on narrative and storytelling, theory on how the media set agendas about health coverage, and a variety of psychosocial and communication-based theories. Through the study of the various theoretical approaches, students will learn about the integral nature of communication in health including: the role communication plays in shaping individuals' social and cultural expectations and beliefs about health, how such information may influence people to think differently about health and affect behavioral change, and how communication vehicles may be used to redefine and change public policy about health and health behavior. Students can expect to learn how to apply theoretical constructs through assigned readings, cases and projects, and class interaction.

HCOM549 Media Strategies for the Health Professional (1 credit) Students will develop an understanding of the strategic use of the media by health communicators in message development and communication strategy execution.  The course provides practice in creating health messages, brainstorming creative concepts, identifying appropriate communication channels and executing various tactics associated with their strategy.  It includes writing in various styles and for different audiences, adhering to real-time deadlines, and managing a project from the idea stage to implementation.  The class covers audience analysis, message development, choosing a media mix, health literacy, public relations, branding and marketing.  Prerequisite: Applications of Communication Theory to Health Communication. 

PH221 Public Health Methods of Inquiry (0.5 credit) This course is organized around three principle questions in research and evaluation: How do we identify and ask the important questions in public health? How do we design a process by which we can inform such public health questions? and, How do we know when we have an answer? The course provides a basic grounding in public health research and teaches students research/evaluation skills that enable them to; formulate an appropriate public health question, specify one or more testable and relevant hypotheses, identify the necessary data and design a strategy to obtain it, choose an appropriate evaluation methodology, understand the degree to which they have addressed their question, and communicate key aspects of the findings to both a general and an academic audience. (Students may choose to take PH 222 as a substitute for this course.)

PH222 Survey Research Methods and Data Management (1 credit) This course uses real world examples to introduce students to basic survey methodology and data management.  Students have the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of good survey design and how to enter, code and clean the data one collects. Topics include formulating research questions, sampling, sample size determination, linking instruments to conceptual frameworks, principles of item construction and scale development, modes of survey administration, and qualitative methods. During the laboratory component of the course, students learn how to develop and maintain a documentation system, create data entry screens, verify the accuracy of data entry, clean data, merge and subset data files, derive new variables, conduct descriptive analyses and summarize results. Prerequisite: HCOM 502: Epidemiology and Biostatistics   (Students may choose to take PH 221 and PH 225 as a substitute for this course.)

PH225 Qualitative Tools for Public Health Research and Programs (0.5 credit) The course is aimed at integrating specific qualitative research methods, including the use of interviews, focus groups, and content analysis, as well as the analysis of the resulting data. Students are required to work on several small weekly assignments that allow them to practice specific methods and foster development of qualitative research skills. They are also required to present examples of qualitative research in class, illustrating both research design and data analysis. By the end of the semester, students will understand how to form research questions appropriate for qualitative methods, integrate qualitative and quantitative methods, and use the tools of qualitative data collection and analysis. (Students may choose to take PH 222 as a substitute for this course.)

PH301 Applied Learning Experience Planning Seminar & PH302 Applied Learning Experience Implementation Seminar (.5 credit each seminar) The Applied Learning Experience (ALE) provides students with a culminating educational experience that will give them the opportunity to integrate and apply theory and skills they have acquired in the program to address a health communication problem in a work setting. A secondary goal is to provide students with the opportunity to produce a body of work reflective of their abilities that can be used in seeking employment upon graduation. Both a report and oral presentation are required. The ALE Seminars provide students with faculty and peer support and feedback on their applied learning projects as they develop and complete this final program requirement. The seminars also provide a structured opportunity to learn about each other's projects. Practical topics discussed include principles of program administration and management, budgeting, developing an Institutional Review Board Application, conducting a literature review, documenting methods, building a resume in health communication, conducting a site report, and oral presentation tips.

NUTR220 Introduction to Writing About Nutrition and Health Communication (Friedman School - 0.5 credit) This introductory course is designed to teach the basic skills necessary to write nutrition- and health-related papers that are clear, accurate, and audience-appropriate. It is a practical review of writing and revision, and will enable students to develop a clear, fluent, and readable style. The course will include both individual and collaborative exercises and will require several writing and editing assignments, as well as rewrites. It is a prerequisite for NUTR 205 and NUTR 306, both of which build on the skills it provides. Substitutions: HCOM511: Writing About Health and Medicine; HCOM513: Writing for Public Health Professionals.