Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals Certificate Program

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Program Overview

Fairfield University offers a unique, fully-online 12-credit certificate in Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals Certificate which was developed to enhance those working in a healthcare field’s ability to more effectively share information with: patients, families, peers, administrators, and/or intra-/inter-organizationally. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine (2016) “analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S”. These adverse events are more than double what the Institute of Medicine estimated 17 years earlier and are today one of the leading causes of deaths in America. As a result, not only are these tragedies increasing, but they are in large part due to dysfunctional or ineffective health communication (interpersonal, team, and/or organizational).

Consequently, this program was developed to enhance healthcare professionals’ communication skills with the following goals/objectives:

  1. Demonstrate how effective interpersonal, team, and/or organizational health communication can improve clinical, personal, and institutional outcomes—from decreasing medical errors to reducing provider stress and burnout
  2. Illustrate the ways in which miscommunication, ineffective health communication, and/or the lack of information-sharing and collaboration can lead to adverse events and unintended realities
  3. Explore the communication (verbal and nonverbal) behaviors that can lead to improved interpersonal relationships (with patients, families, peers, and co-workers), trust development, and empowerment

This fully online, asynchronous (not meeting as a group at any specific day/time during the week) Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals Certificate will use a variety of computer-mediated educational opportunities to create an interactive, discussion-based, virtual seminar for each of the courses. Specifically, Zoom-based lectures posted online each week with assigned readings from health communication related texts will serve as the foundation for the interaction-based questions in the online discussion board. Healthcare professionals in this certificate program will be able to choose from a variety of course options, one class per 14-week semester, and be able to complete the pass/fail, 4-course certificate requirement in as little as 16 months (e.g., fall, spring, summer, and fall), or at their own pace. In addition to written texts, a wide variety of visual texts and media will be used to enhance learning and increase interdisciplinary discussions.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate how effective interpersonal, team, and/or organizational health communication can improve clinical, personal, and institutional outcomes — from decreasing medical errors to reducing provider stress and burnout:

1

Communication Improvement

Certificate holders will be able to illustrate the ways in which miscommunication, ineffective health communication, and/or the lack of information-sharing and collaboration can lead to adverse events and unintended realities.

2

Rapport Building

Students will explore the communication (verbal and nonverbal) behaviors that can lead to improved interpersonal relationships (with patients, families, peers, and co-workers), trust development, and empowerment.

Program Highlights

Fully online and flexible, this certificate program will use a variety of computer-mediated educational opportunities to create an interactive, discussion-based, virtual seminar for each of the courses.

Convenient online lectures posted each week with accompanying timely readings will serve as the foundation for the interaction-based questions in the online Discussion Board.

Choose from a variety of course options, and complete requirements in as little as 16 months at your own pace.

In addition to written texts, a wide variety of new media will be used to enhance learning and increase interdisciplinary discussions.

Requirements & Curriculum

Required Courses

Select four (4) courses from the following:
Palliative Care Communication in the United States and Ireland
Ethics and Communication
Interpersonal Communication
Communication and Organizational Leadership
Healthcare Organizational Communication
Health Communication

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.

College of Arts & Sciences Admission

The Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals Certificate Program is intended for anyone with an associate’s, bachelor's, master’s, or doctoral degree who is either a/an licensed healthcare provider, employee of a healthcare organization (nonprofit or for-profit), or graduate student in a health profession-related program.

More About the Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals Certificate Program

Department Highlights

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Department Highlights

Headshot of Michael Pagano, PhD, PA-C

Michael Pagano, PhD, PA-C

Michael is an Oklahoman transplanted to Connecticut and that geographic diversity is a metaphor for his diverse careers as well. Interdisciplinary and applied approaches to teaching and scholarship mark his professional journey. After serving as an Army corpsman in Vietnam, Dr. Pagano became a physician assistant-certified (PA-C). He enjoyed the patient education role of being a PA and detoured to graduate school earning an MA in English and a PhD in communication with a focus on health communication. Over the past 40 years Dr. Pagano has practiced as a PA-C and combined patient care with his passion for teaching and his research and writing interests in exploring health communication from: provider-patient interactions, provider pedagogy, and organizational communication perspectives. Currently, he teaches a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses: health, organizational, and interpersonal communication courses, including interdisciplinary offerings for health professions students (RN, premed, predental, prePA, psychology, etc.). Dr. Pagano’s most unique course has been offered annually for the last decade, “End-of-Life Communication” which provides students with an opportunity to spend 20 hours of service learning at the Connecticut Hospice applying their classroom studies vis-à-vis interactions with dying patients and their families. In addition, he has a wide-ranging health and organizational communication research agenda. Dr. Pagano’s unique background has contributed to a breadth of publications including: six books on health communication, one on health care in America (under contract), and three articles co-authored with Eileen O’Shea, PhD, and others, related to the development of a Health Communication Assessment Tool (HCAT) for patient simulation. He has served as the director of graduate studies for the MA in communication program, as well as interim director for the health studies minor and masters of public administration program. He is an avid golfer and enjoys writing fiction in his spare time. He is married with two sons (a financial adviser and a polar bear researcher) and two granddaughters (11 and 4).

Faculty

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Faculty

The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff, and passionate scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Our faculty members are experts in their field and work closely with graduate students to provide academic advice and individualized attention that makes their experience as productive as it is rewarding.

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