My journey to health communication started when I graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art with a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design in 2007. I spent almost 7 years working in graphic design and web design before gravitating toward advertising and public relations within my role at a restaurant and entertainment group. I have also worked with numerous not-for-profit organizations as a volunteer and mentor, which is what inspired me to become more active in seeking a role within the health care industry. It was then that I realized marketing and communications was where I wanted to apply my newfound discovery.
I was surrounded by friends and family who were all seeking a role within the same industry; however, they wanted to become nurses, physician’s assistants, or doctors. I wanted to make a difference in a distinctive manner: through marketing. I enjoyed the time I took to explore my career path as a designer; however, I realized that doing it as a full-time job was not where I wanted to pursue a career.
My husband suggested seeking out a master’s degree, which I thought was a great idea, to expand my education and gain more knowledge about an unknown territory. I wasn’t quite sure how to capitalize on the path I wanted to take until I came across the idea of health care and marketing communications: together. I found a multitude of programs that were trying to achieve this, but nothing stuck out more than Boston University’s program at the Metropolitan College where I could obtain a master of science in health communication.
I had tinkered around with the idea of degrees in public health, integrated marketing, and health care administration before finally settling on health communication: it just made sense. According to the Health.gov, “health communication is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that affect health. It links the fields of communication and health and is increasingly recognized as a necessary element of efforts to improve personal and public health.” Attending a top-ranked institution and being offered the chance to obtain a hands-on experience learning about health care, communications and marketing offered me the variety that I was seeking—and the best part was that it was online!
After graduating from Boston University, I decided to finally make the leap into the health care sector, which is how I obtained my current role as a marketing communication lead for The Institute for Transfusion Medicine (ITxM), one of the nation’s foremost organizations specializing in transfusion medicine and related services. I could finally utilize my graphic design, web design, journalism, public relations, social media, advertising, photography, and marketing experience and knowledge toward a career path without looking back.