Peter Schulz, Institute of Communication and Health, Full Professor, Director of ICH
What is MCMH all about? (i.e. could you briefly explain the topic of the master)
MCMH offers a unique opportunity to have a focused and in depth programme in the health sector while at the same time gain a broad understanding of how business and marketing functions operate.
What are the issues that you are passionate about within the field of CMH? and why?
Health communication, combined with management and marketing, are a real innovative and growing field both in academic research as well as in practice. Working in this field allows students to make an impact, to change something to the better in this area.
Could you mention the main strengths of the MSc in CMH offered at USI, compared to other Master’s programmes in CMH?
MCMH combines theoretical and practical knowledge and creates a solid link between concepts and their use in business by illustrating how theory can inform business analysis and decisions. It also offers the unique opportunity to acquire a focused and in-depth set of knowledge and skills related to the health sector, analytical skills and a broad understanding of how business and marketing functions operate.
What career opportunities are there for a graduate from the Master in CMH?
The primary job market for candidates earning this degree is the marketing and communication functions of pharmaceutical, bio tech, and insurance companies, hospitals, government and other organizations in the health sector where the combination of analytical skills and understanding of the health sector will provide a competitive advantage. The skills and knowledge obtained from the degree can also be used in many other areas such as communication, management, marketing and other market related functions.
What kind of skills and competencies should a student develop to start a successful career in CMH?
In order to lead a successful career in CMH, students need to acquire theoretical knowledge and research skills in the health sector and at the same time get a preparation in business and marketing. It is also helpful to get acquainted with the complexities of communicating and working in multicultural settings, which is becoming more and more crucial for both business and health sectors, and to develop the skill to collaborate on ongoing research projects commissioned by different stakeholders in the health domain (health promotion institutions, etc.)
What do you appreciate about USI/ or what features make USI special?
USI offers a professional, friendly, and personal learning environment as well as a highly innovative research spectrum. As such, USI is both rooted in the Swiss university system, as well as linked to numerous international research networks.
Unlike other Swiss universities, which are firmly rooted in the Swiss academic context, USI has no long and solid tradition to rely on. But this is hardly a drawback, however; on the contrary, a young USI is receptive to all sorts of opportunities to explore and pioneer. It is willing to take on enriching new initiatives; free to put forward strategies to meet the challenges confronting modern man: the environment, the economy, society, and the new technologies. If USI stands out in the Swiss academic landscape, it is partly for its original teaching programmes. These are informed by regional and historical-cultural motives, but equally by an inspired readiness to act on the reforms currently implemented in higher education.
What aspects of Lugano do you like?
Lugano is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, a privileged geographic position at the crossroads between Northern and Southern European cultures. It combines so to say the Northern sense of order with the flair of Italian life style. mountains, see, and a mild climate in winter.
Is there any academic figure that especially inspires you ?
One of the fathers of the discipline of communication science, Elihu Katz – he is still active and came to Lugano last year, teaching a seminar to the students –, conducted from his very beginning in academia several studies in the field of health. I was particularly impressed by one of these studies that dealt with how a medicament had become well-known in a community, with other words how certain idea had been diffused. The field of health communication had not yet been established, but he already anticipated a question that still today, 50 years after this study, is relevant and object of many other studies in the field.
What vision do you have for the future of the Master in CMH?
The Master in CMH should develop into the direction as it had been founded: to offer students an academically exciting program that combine both advanced research skills and theoretical knowledge on one side with real and relevant questions from the field on the other side. An international study program that will be at the forefront of the field, and which will continue to attract – as it does already now – highly qualified students from Switzerland and abroad.
Prof. Dr. Annegret Hannawa, Institute of Communication and Health, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano
In your opinion, why does health communication matter?
The way we communicate with each other impacts our health. In clinical settings, for example, patients and physicians need to exchange messages competently to facilitate positive treatment outcomes. This task is much more complex than it sounds. An ample amount of empirical investigations focus on the challenge of achieving optimal understanding among medical staff and in provider-patient dyads across diverse medical contexts. But the association between communication and health is also evident in interactions outside of medical care. For example, the way we communicate with our friends and loved ones can impact our psychological and physiological well-being. Also, how and what the media communicate to us can have an effect on our health. These are just a few examples of the many versatile facets that make health communication such a dynamic and trendy field of study.
Why are experts in health communication needed?
As I mentioned before, the study of health communication is very complex. It entails thorough investigations of verbal, nonverbal, and mediated human interaction that influences or is influenced by people's health status, health behaviors, and health beliefs. Furthermore, health communication occurs on a number of different levels, for example between a few individuals, among small groups, within or across institutions, and even on societal or cultural dimensions. Research to this date has only touched the tip of an iceberg, and many more future investigations are needed to enhance our understanding of what constitutes competent communication related to health. Experts are needed to contribute high-quality research to this endeavor and also to eventually translate the scientific findings into practice.
In Europe, Health Communication is a relatively new field compared to the USA. How do you see its future?
Health Communication is in fact a newer field of investigation in Europe. But interestingly, it also looks quite different. In the U.S., health communication is primarily investigated either in the communication discipline or in medicine-related fields. In Europe, the inquiry is much more interdisciplinary and international in nature. At our Institute of Communication and Health, for example, we represent a large variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds that range across humanistic and social scientific traditions. Integrating our perspectives adds great value to our research. Recent research by European scholars has made a visible impact on the field, and I have no doubt that we will continue to contribute to the study of health communication in significant ways.
What are the advantages for a student to pursue the Master in Communication, Management and Health?
Students will truly benefit from the diverse personal and scholarly perspectives we can offer them at the ICH. In addition, they get the opportunity to meet with top scholars in the field that visit us every semester in the framework of our Ph.D. program. In their fourth semester, they also get a chance to apply their knowledge in the form of a field project in local companies. These are just a few examples that add to the uniqueness and versatility of our Master program.
What do you appreciate about USI and about Lugano?
There are many sides of USI and Lugano that I appreciate very much. If I had to pick one, it would be the collegiate and scholarly character of the University, and of course the diverse scenic attractions Lugano has to offer!