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Discuss about the Health Activism for Communication Theory and Action.

Communication Theory and Action

While the foundation of humans is built upon our ability to communication, so one would associate communication with something that is easy and not a dedicated branch of work. However, in reality, things are quite the opposite. The nature of communication is quite complex and it changes dramatically given the nature of work and the industry and the field where it’s being used. The nature of communication in healthcare is therefore complex, especially even more when it comes to being in the field of Public Healthcare. Moreover, in my area of work, there could not be a scope of any kind of miscommunication. This is because a miscommunication could be disastrous and extremely dangerous to an individual or a group of people. As a result, a public healthcare communication expert needs to have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of how communication should be used to send across the right message, one which is least altered and understood the best. It would enable the expert to have a more meaningful and personal relationship with the patients and the public at large. The communication would allow the expert to breakdown complex information into something that the patients and public could relate to and at the same time be empathetic to them so that they connect and respond better. Communication would be the foundation of this field and it would promote trust and openness. With a better communication, the clinical conversations would be more accurate and thus so would be the messages.

Communication theory is a concept which is based on the sender, receiver, channel and noise. The sender in this case is the healthcare practitioner (such as a surgeon) who encodes the message in a format which could be understood by the receiver (patient). This message would be sent through a ‘channel’ which could either be face-to-face, an email, a phone call or even a letter. The receiver decodes and understands the message (Turturean, 2016). The noise could hamper the quality of message transmission or the ability to decode it well.

The communication can include both non-verbal messages such as facial expressions, body language and verbal messages such as voice modulation, intonation etc. Also, a noise which could restrict the sending and receiving of message. In this case a noise could be a language barrier, or age difference or even digital interference. As a result, the sender should confirm with the receiver that their questions were well understood (Prenger, 2016). The healthcare practitioner employs this particular practice in reality to eliminate any misunderstanding with the patient. This results in both the patient and the healthcare practitioner understanding each other’s expectations better. This increases the satisfaction of the patients and the public given that the message has been understood.

Types and Styles of Communication

There are majorly three types of communication styles. The aggressive, the passive and the confident style. Communication style may differ from person to person and it could be arising out of a multitude of factors such as life experiences, culture and family. The aggressive style is associated with being loud, sarcastic or insulting (Prenger, 2016). However, this kind of communication style isn’t well accepted and can often result in barrier to communication. The next style is the passive style of communication wherein the communications are apprehensive in their delivery and also are easily persuaded. This communication style is associated with it being soft, slow and vague. The next and the best communication style is the confident style of communication. This style of communication is associated with it being considerate, confident, clear and assertive (Turturean, 2016). Their speech volume is average, the speed and delivery of the pitch is also assertive and moderate. It is important to understand the different styles of communication because of my major being communication in public healthcare. This will help me adapt my communication to the one which is most favourable and something that is widely accepted. Thus, the public and the patients would be more receptive as well as committed in responding back.

Empathy is an important attribute of human and something that is ingrained in us since our birth. It is nothing but the capacity to understand as well as feel what the other person or group is experiencing from their reference. It is the capacity at which one person can place to the other’s position in order to understand their concerns. Health practitioners must have a capacity of being empathetic because this would allow it to connect to the patients and the group better (Valente, 2016). As a student majoring in communication in public healthcare, it is important for me to understand the concept of empathy. Being empathy is positively seen and is also linked with good behavioural and communication skills. My work would concern primarily with communication and healthcare and therefore it is important to have an empathy towards patient and the general public to be able to connect better and communicate with them in a more meaningful way. I should be able to understand what the patients and the public are feeling to be able to develop a successful relationship with them and to also have them to trust me and understand me.

Importance of Empathy

A public healthcare communication expert must employee techniques to foster a therapeutic relationship with their patients and the public. A fully functional relationship is often characterised by respect, collaboration, trust, tolerance and understanding. It allows for the patients and the public to enhance their level of participation to better achieve their healthcare goals. Understanding these concepts would allow me to practice in a patient centric fashion. It would allow me to understand priorities and needs of the patients better. On the other hand, interviews initiate a dialogue between the patient or the public and the healthcare expert to understand the problems and issues of the patients (Zoller, 2005). As a public healthcare communication expert, I can make use of the interviewing skills in initiating a better dialogue between me and the public while using both non-verbal and verbal communication skills. It is important to dress professionally and be relaxed while speaking. During the interview, it is important to make use of other communication skills such as speaking in slow and clear voice, trying to understand the other party better, making a comfortable and relaxing environment as well as allowing the patient to respond in their own pace and time.

Managing motivation is at the core of my work in my public communication area. This is because the work at one point is going to be challenging, tedious and stressful as well. Given that, there are other personal and professional responsibilities to manage and the seriousness of the job would be too much to bear at a given point. As a result, I would need a lot of motivation to balance my work and life and to be focused on my work. Beyond this, motivation would also help me progressing towards my goal better and to go that extra mile that helps the public at large. Self-motivated healthcare experts are also more capable at addressing the needs of the patients and the public, especially when the situation is complex and requires lot of persistence and creativity (Miller, 2004). Motivation will come for a combination of smart and hard work. It is this combination that would help me in achieving my objectives, helping and understanding my patients and thereby earning reputation and name in the field. Not to mention that, I also need to be a team player and be respectful towards my peers. As a result of all these activities, it’s by-product would itself be the motivation.     

Conclusion

Throughout the development of the ePortfolio, I have understood quite a bit about communication and especially how it relates to my chosen area. While researching on this topic, I have also been exposed to the role of technology in healthcare communication (Eden & Bloor, 2010). Also, modern technologies such as social media, instant messaging and the hyper connectivity of various healthcare systems, it has become far easier to communicate with the patient yet it has become even more challenging for the expert. This ePortfolio has also taught me various values and skills that I would need to exhibit in my practice as well as in my personal life. I am now more aware about this respective area and I have a better understanding of how I should be using communication techniques with my patients and the public at large. The three most important things that I have learnt with this is that communication in healthcare is not as simple as it may seem. This is primarily because of the fact that slight changes in meanings, words, tools and methodologies of delivering the message could potentially be disastrous and how easy it is for this to happen. I have also understood the sender, channel and receiver theory and I am already visualising my future communications with that theory. Lastly, I have also learnt that I need to be empathetic towards my patients and that it is extremely important for them to connect with me and this plays an important role in my area of work.

References

Eden, D., & Bloor, J. (2010). Communication Intelligence: Optimising healthcare communication in a digital age. Journal Of Communication In Healthcare, 3(2), 113-123. doi: 10.1179/175380710x12813488575808

Eden, D., & Bloor, J. (2010). Communication Intelligence: Optimising healthcare communication in a digital age. Journal Of Communication In Healthcare, 3(2), 113-123. doi: 10.1179/175380710x12813488575808

Miller, G. (2004). PRACTITIONER APPLICATION: The Demography, Career Pattern, and Motivation of Locum Tenens Physicians in the United States. Journal Of Healthcare Management, 49(6), 375-376. doi: 10.1097/00115514-200411000-00006

Prenger, E. (2016). Communication Case Studies for Health Care Professionals: An Applied Approach, by Pagano, M. Health Communication, 32(4), 520-522. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1168005

Turturean, M. (2016). Assertive Communication at Work. Communication Styles in the Classroom. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2829874

Valente, F. (2016). Empathy and Communication: A Model of Empathy Development. Journal Of New Media And Mass Communication, 3(1), 1-24. doi: 10.18488/journal.91/2016.3.1/91.1.1.24

Zoller, H. (2005). Health Activism: Communication Theory and Action for Social Change. Communication Theory, 15(4), 341-364. doi: 10.1093/ct/15.4.341

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