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Medical Communicators Take Center Stage

Posted on | April 24, 2008 | No Comments

AMA conference helps medical experts learn to communicate vital health information

In my most recent blog, “Trusting the Experts for Accurate Health Information,” April 1, 2008, I suggested that the media needs to be responsible for providing accurate, reliable health information to the public.  From that blog: “Not only is it the responsibility of the media to provide accurate information, but health care professionals in masses need to focus on prevention and accurately provide health information to the public.  While Hollywood loves dramatization, we need the information to be accurate.”

With the vast array of health information surfacing on the web, in print and on-air, we need to be cognizant of the fact of where this information is coming from.  We need to be able to decipher health information and sort out the good, the bad, and the useless. 

As a media broadcaster, numerous press releases make there way into my inbox and on my desk.  Some are nothing but hype and those don’t even get a full glance.  Most are deleted or tossed, a few get a second glimpse, but mostly, the medical experts that will support a health topic of my choosing are mostly medical experts dedicated to providing the most reliable and accurate information in a media-friendly fashion.  These experts not only contribute expert medical and health information, but they are learning how to deliver that information.  They are devoted to their profession and they will do whatever it takes to deliver the best and most reliable information to the public.

Where are these medical experts going to learn the tricks of the trade?  Every year, for the last 28 years, the American Medical Association along with the National Association of Medical Communicators has offered the Medical Communications Conference – the preeminent conference of its kind in the country.  This year the conference was held at the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego April 16-18.  The conference is open to all health professionals dedicated to improving and delivering medical information.  Many of the attendees are physicians and other medical communication professionals and technology gurus.  The conference offers hands-on communications training.  To quote one promotional item: “This conference earns rave reviews from physicians interested in improving their message delivery, professional communicators looking to sharpen their skills and learn new ones, and new communicators and journalists hoping to break into the field.”

I’ve been honored to be part of such a preeminent medical communications conference.  Selected by the AMA for the second year as faculty for the conference, this year I teamed up with Christopher Springmann, Executive Producer of LifeLoveandHealth Radio, Perette Godwin, Anchor/Reporter, The CW 5 KSWB-TV San Diego, CA and Alicia Booth, Anchor/Medical Reporter, WEWS Cleveland, OH. 

From one-on-one on-camera critiquing classes to teleprompter training to mock radio interviews to interviewing techniques to learning about “The Whole Package,” this conference offers workshops and electives that will enhance the delivery of medical information; whether it’s on-camera, on-air or writing medical news. 

Before I began presenting at the conference I attended as an eager student learning the tricks of the trade; learning to give on-camera stand-ups, read teleprompter, and write news.  I believe I was most likely the only RN in a sea of physicians, but that only challenged me more to learn quickly.

The general public is in desperate need of accurate, reliable health information and learning how to deliver it is as important as knowing it.  So the next time you’re watching a health reporter or listening to a radio interview on a health topic, go ahead and wonder if the experts have attended the AMA MCC.  It’s there that they learn to be the best medical communicators that they can be! 

Here’s a link to the conference.
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/18145.html

(Barbara Ficarra is a registered nurse, journalist, executive producer & host of the radio show “Health in 30™,” and founder of Healthin30.com. She can be reached at b.ficarra@healthin30.com. Opinions expressed by Health Commentary guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of Health Commentary.)

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