About Dr. John C. Lammers, Ph.D.: John C. Lammers earned his BA degree in Psychology at California State University, Humboldt and his MA and PhD degrees in Sociology from the University of California at Davis. He also completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Medical and Mental Healthcare Systems research at Stanford University. He has researched and consulted with a wide variety of health organizations and served as a lead faculty member for the Public Health Leadership Institute.

As the Director of the HCOM program, Dr. Lammers is responsible for marketing the program, leading the development of curriculum, and making sure that the program has faculty to teach courses. He has taught the course on Communication and Health Organizations, Professions, and Policy. In the on-site program at Illinois’s Urbana campus, he teaches Advanced Organizational Communication, Organizational Processes in Health Communication, and graduate seminars. He specializes in organizational communication with an emphasis on health professions, organizations, and institutions.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of the Online Master of Science in Health Communication program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] The mission of the HCOM program is to extend health communication research and theory in a practical way to working professionals in a variety of health care fields. Thus, our program is rooted in the Communication Department’s tradition of scholarship, but works to translate that scholarship for health professions. Student learning outcomes in the HCOM program fall under three general areas in which the Department has expertise and a strong reputation: mass (social/mediated) communication for health, interpersonal communication regarding health, and organizational communication in the delivery of health care services. In addition, students are oriented to the broadest definitions of health communication generally, and taught to use health services research findings.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the HCOM program

1. …understand the role of communication processes in the reception and delivery of health care services and information. They learn that communication is not only the transmission of messages but also the interaction between humans and non-human technologies in the creation of practical understandings of health processes.

2. …are able to read and digest qualitative and quantitative research concerning health care services in order to assist practitioners and patients in the most effective delivery of health care messages and information.

3. …are able to identify the effectiveness and limitations of persuasion strategies used to inform and influence audience’s adoption of health care information and behaviors. This outcome includes dedicated health campaigns as well as the influence of media on health behaviors and beliefs.

4. …are familiar with interpersonal communication behaviors in health care settings as well as in private and public life that lead to or prevent the adoption of healthy behaviors. This outcome includes social support and health outcomes, patient provider communication as well as family and support group communication related to health.

5. …are familiar with the organizational settings in which health communication takes place, particularly with reference to inter-professional communication, managerial communication, and the policies that guide health care services.

6. …are able to recognize the role of theory in understanding health communication processes and successfully utilize theoretical frameworks to explain breakdowns in health communication and propose methods for repairing communication problems in interpersonal, organizational and social/mediated fields.

Students take the courses one at a time as a cohort in a sequence, and only the capstone is unstructured. If students have to withdraw temporarily or begin the program after the fall term, they may join or rejoin cohorts. The program maximizes the possibility that working professional can complete the program in two years and one summer.

[MastersinCommunications.com] How does the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Online Master of Science in Health Communication incorporate online learning technologies into its curriculum, and how do students and faculty interact throughout the program, in and outside of the virtual classroom?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] All courses are taught asynchronously using recorded presentations, online discussions, and online readings and films, and quizzes using a modified Moodle platform for each course.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students must complete a capstone project. Could we please have more details on this project, its required deliverables, and the timeline students follow to complete it?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] The capstone is self-directed by the student with guidance from a course instructor and advice from a faculty member of the student’s choice. The project is evaluated by a committee consisting of the course instructor, the faculty advisor, and a practical expert from the field. The capstone project can be academic (as in a literature review and research proposal or a highly practical, attested intervention). Most are delivered with several forms of documentation, including an executive summary and a recorded presentation. Students can check in with their committee as they go and some do, while others work independently.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Online Master of Science in Health Communication program, and how can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems? Additionally, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] Students can reach out to faculty members throughout the program; the program coordinator stays in touch with every student throughout his or her program, and all students are formally evaluated and given written feedback once a year. We do not provide career counselling as the great majority of our students already have careers in health care.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for the Online Master of Science in Health Communication program?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] Call the program coordinator. We talk to nearly every student during the application period.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Online Master of Science in Health Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?

[Dr. John C. Lammers] Our program is designed for busy health care professionals seeking an advanced degree. It is flexibly administered, high touch, and relevant to a wide range of communication occupations and health care functions. In addition, as a land grant University, Illinois is committed to making the program as affordable as possible. The Department of Communication at Illinois and our health communication faculty are internationally prominent. Students in the HCOM program receive the same top quality graduate education we have been delivering in communication at Illinois since 1947.

Thank you, Dr. Lammers, for your insight into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Online Master of Science in Health Communication program!