Liz Austin

Liz Austin Health Communication graduate 2009

Liz Austin, '09

Tell us about your current job.
I currently work for a government contractor called Kelly Government Solutions. I'm stationed at the National Cancer Institute, Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

My title is Communications and Outreach Coordinator. I manage a staff of two (another communications analyst contractor and an intern).

What did you study as an undergraduate?
I went to Bentley University and graduated with a degree in Information Design and Corporate Communication. I focused mainly on public relations, web communications and technical writing.

How did you decide to get a degree in Health Communication?
I've always been interested in health, medicine, wellness, really anything having to do with health in general. I was working at Tufts School of Dental Medicine as a web content specialist, so completely unrelated to a degree in health. I had been feeling a desire to go back to school and was looking into local university programs for things that interested me. I came across the Health Communication Master of Science (MS/HCOM) program at Tufts and knew it was perfect for me, since it combined my previous degree in communication with the broader field of health and health promotion.

Why did you choose Tufts?
Tufts has a fantastic reputation in the field of health and research. I knew I'd receive a great education and have access to Boston's impressive list of health industries to choose from after graduation.

Did you move to Boston to attend Tufts?
No, I was living in the area at the time.

How feasible was your approach to the program?
I had a full time job while attending the MS/HCOM program part-time. I took two classes a semester year round for about 2.5 years (fall, spring, and summer). It was a busy time for me, but it was worth it. I think two classes while working full time is just about right. Any more would have been way too much.

What type of position did you take after graduation?
I applied to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Health Communication Internship Program while in my final semesters at Tufts. I was accepted and moved to DC to work with the NCI as a Health Communications Fellow in the office where I still currently work.

How do you think your Tufts degree prepared you for working in the field?
I think it helped me hone my writing skills and gain a better understanding of how to communicate directly and succinctly. I learned about federal government programs (e.g. NIH, CDC) while in school and that directly related to my internship with the federal government. The basic overview of the health care system, biostatistics, and information about anatomy and diseases in general also served as a base for my interactions with various colleagues and work tasks.

Is there any additional information that you would like to share with prospective students?
An MS/HCOM degree is incredibly versatile. You can work in public health, medical writing, communications, health care, health policy, write for a research journal, etc. It can become what you make of it. If you are more into public health take more public health classes, or do the same for media communications, or pain research. The choices are there for you and it's up to you to carve out a schedule and focus that works for you. Good luck and have fun!

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