Joelle Zaslow

Joelle Zaslow, Health Communication graduate 2015

Joelle Zaslow, '15

Tell us about your job.
I work at Massachusetts General Hospital as the Communication Specialist for its Research Institute. I develop and oversee the Research Institute's communication strategies and tactics. In addition to managing the Research Institute blog and social media channels, I translate complex scientific articles and interviews with researchers into engaging content that's accessible for a wide audience.

What did you study as an undergraduate?
I majored in Communication Studies at Emerson College.

How did you decide to get a degree in Health Communication?
I took an introduction to health communication course my last semester at Emerson and really loved it. After I graduated, got my first job as a grant writer at an environmental nonprofit in Boston, and started thinking about where I wanted to take my career, I remembered that health communication class I had taken. Health and wellness had always been personal passions of mine, and with my background in communication studies, health communication seemed like a perfect fit.

How did you learn about the Tufts program, and what made you choose it?
I knew I wanted to stay in Boston so I searched for health communication programs in the area. I really liked that the Tufts program was based in the med school and would provide me with both a communication and scientific perspective.

Did you work as a grad student, and how feasible was your approach to the program?
Yes, I worked full time when I was in the program. I took two night classes each semester and finished in three years. It was difficult, but because my full-time job was in the health/wellness field, I felt like the skills I was learning in school also helped me at work. I think it's feasible to work full time and take classes, but it requires discipline, organization, and time management.

Tell us about your ALE - where did you do it, and what are some of the most valuable skills that you gained?
I did my ALE at ChildObesity180 which is based in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. I developed, implemented, and evaluated a healthy concession stand marketing campaign and intervention. The communication campaign was designed to target and engage youth athletes ages 5-12 years. My ALE provided me with an opportunity to hone my project management skills, plus I learned how to remain flexible and think quickly. My final project changed so much from the plan I drafted at the beginning of the semester, but I learned to be open to change especially when working within the community where things can be very unpredictable.

If different than your current position, what was your first job after graduation?
My first job was at ChildObesity180 where I was Senior Project Coordinator for their Restaurant Initiative. I oversaw production and implementation of a messaging campaign that empowered moms to take small steps to make healthy eating fun and easy for their kids.

What are some ways in which your Tufts degree has equipped you to work in the field?
I truly feel like I put my degree to use every day. For instance, I apply the lessons I learned in Epidemiology and Biostatistics when reading through academic publications. I wouldn't be able to translate the science without a basic knowledge of risk, confidence intervals, etc. and an understanding of how to critically analyze a study. More broadly, the program showed me how versatile a degree in health communication can be. You take such a wide variety of classes and the skills you learn can be applied in so many different settings. That versatility makes you more likely to stand out on a job application and leaves you open to explore a range of career opportunities.

Do you have any advice for current students, or prospective students considering the Tufts MS in Health Communication program?
For prospective students, I'd highly recommend the health communication program at Tufts. It provided me with so many new opportunities and helped me grow professionally and personally.