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MS HCOM Applied Learning Experience

Traditionally completed in the last two semesters of study, the Applied Learning Experience (ALE) offers students an opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to an important real world health communication problem. Further, it is an opportunity for students to provide service to the community by working with a real world agency. The ALE allows our faculty to assess student preparedness to graduate and practice health communication.

The ALE consists of a placement with a practitioner and a classroom-based seminar. Students spend a minimum of 160 hours over the course of a semester performing their work on behalf of their field agency. The classroom based seminar is a forum for students to learn from each other’s experiences and for the Course Director to track student progress, assess performance, and provide technical assistance. At the conclusion of the semester, students submit a written report and give an oral presentation of their work.

Students often find the ALE the most rewarding experience of the program.

Presenting my ALE at the national American Public Health Association conference in Chicago (2015) was a great opportunity that opened a lot of doors for me - I was able to network, which is how I met my current employer (also a Tufts alum!) - Sammi Gassel

Sample ALE Projects

Tufts students have worked with local, regional, national, and international organizations on a variety of health issues for their ALE projects. Recent projects include:


Project Title

ABC News: Medical Unit

From Soundbite to Story: Behind the Scenes of One Minute Thirty Seconds on Network News

Agada Hospitals, Chennai, India

Creating a Mobile Health Intervention for Diabetes Management in India

Arnold Communications (for MA Dept. of Public Health)

Smoke Screeners: An Educational Program to Take Glamour Out of Smoking in the Movies

Blum Patient and Family Learning Center, MGH

Initiating Conversations about End-of-Life Wishes


Digital Advocacy Strategy and Web Design for ColoradoCareYES

CommunicateHealth, MA

Storytelling for Prevention: Creating Video Testimonials for

Consumer Reports

Mobile Solutions for Preventive Care:  Recommendations for a Consumer Reports Initiative

Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center: The Initiative to Eliminate Health Disparities, MA

Culturally Sensitive Cancer Prevention – A Resource Guide for Latinos

Department of Public Health, MA

“Aminah’s Decision:” Improving LTBI Treatment Adherence Among Somali Bantu Refugee Women in Massachusetts

Enroll America, Washington DC

Enrolling America:  Connecting Consumers to Health Insurance

Epilepsy Foundation

Findings from a Quantitative Study to Create a Transition Guide for Students with Epilepsy

Gloucester School System, MA

Improving School-Parent Communication about Sexual Health in Gloucester, MA

Idaho Meth Project, ID

Don’t Meth Around:  Engaging Idaho Dental Hygienists in Adolescent Methamphetamine Use Prevention

Massachusetts Poison Control System, MA

Marketing Poison Center Services to Older Adults

Newton Wellesley Hospital, MA

Going Home Preemie! The Development of a Parent Resource Guide for Parents of Premature Infants Nearing Discharge-to-Home

Nutrition Options, LLC

Using a Social Marketing Approach to Promote and Improve the Build Healthy Kids School Program

Project Bread, MA

Developing Approaches to Increasing Participation in the School Breakfast Program: The Results of a Survey of Parental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, MA

The Community-Based Care Transition Program:  Recommendations for Improving Communication Between Transition Facilitators and Patients

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, MA

Improving Patient-Physician Communication: Results From a Pilot Seminar

The Environment and Health Group, Inc.

Formative Evaluation of Web Site for Latino Caregivers to Family Members with Alzheimer’s Disease

Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development

Communication & The Innovation Process: Trends in the Pharmaceutical Research and Development Initiatives in Africa

 Tufts Medical Center

Health Literacy and Knowledge Among HIV Positive Adults

Through my ALE I explored the valuable role of technology in health communication, particularly in reaching audiences with physical disabilities. The experience made me more competitive in the job market, and the lessons I learned carry over into my work every day. - Amy Behrens

HCOM Program Director & Staff

Margie Skeer, Sc.D., M.P.H., M.S.W.
Interim Director, Health Communication Program

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM
Director of Certificate in Digital Health Communication 


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