How my master’s in communication helps patients in their time of need.


This piece is brought to you in partnership with Queens University of Charlotte. David Bodenheimer, a Queens alum with a master’s degree in communication, shares how going back to school gave him the skills to succeed professionally within his role at Novant Health. 

Healthcare is a massive, global industry with no shortage of complexities. At its core, it is a person-focused business, existing to cure, treat, help and comfort us all at our most critical time of need. Communication within a healthcare setting is one of the most powerful tools we use to help patients meet their healthcare goals. Patients have greater access to information and their healthcare providers than ever before. To that end, organizations are adopting new strategies and approaches to be better partners with patients.

I’ve been working in communications within Patient Services at Novant Health for nearly three years, focusing on patient education, patient engagement, advocacy of patients’ rights and bioethics. Though different, all of these fields share a common goal—to effectively communicate with or for patients and their loved ones. 

As I think about my work at Novant Health, I recognize how the master’s in communication program at Queens equipped me to put the communication skills I’ve refined through their program to use every day. I think about how courses like “Communicating Mindfully,” “Constructing Messages and Audiences” and “Mediated Constructions of the Life Cycle,” exposed me to research, conversations and viewpoints that have been impactful on a professional level. Such coursework has proven to be relevant in my work, particularly the importance of audience connection when communicating, how mediated and metaphoric language shape healthcare dialogue, and how compassionate communication is so important in a healthcare setting. 

Research shows that patient satisfaction is largely correlated with the type of interactions and conversations patients have with their healthcare team. To really achieve positive patient satisfaction, this often requires direct yet sincere and empathic communication with patients and their loved ones. 

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from so many great thinkers during my time at Queens. It challenges students to consider how the program can help them achieve their professional goals and partners students with faculty and staff who help them reach those goals.  

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