Health care is, if nothing else, a personal affair. Whether you’re a doctor or nurse, generalist or specialist, you have to be able to communicate to your patients about their health in a certain manner. You want the patient to understand what you’re saying but also feel able to open up about everything going on with them. Mastering communication skills is essential to true success, just as much as knowing your way around an MRI and a stethoscope.

Recently, Spalding University introduced a degree track where those enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Health Science program can then go on to work on the soft skills that are so important to the health care industry. Spalding now offers the Master of Science in Business Communication program. Spalding Chair of the School of Nursing, Patricia Spurr, explains how the collaboration between the Nursing and Business schools came about, and how important the collaboration is for the students:

“In Louisville, we have a huge health care market. When you think of health care, you probably think of hands-on caregivers. But there are a lot of people within any health agency who help put the whole team together beyond the bedside.”

Although Spalding already offers a bachelor’s in health science, and a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, the goal was to change the bachelor’s program so it benefited people who are interested in health care but who might want to pursue more of the business side of it.

Spalding Chair of the School of Nursing, Patricia Spurr

Spurr says the BSHS program is designed to help health care students understand the whole patient, then allows each student to determine what aspect of the industry to focus upon. Those who focus on administrative roles and functions, such as admissions and patient outreach, have opted to augment their studies by taking courses in the MSBC program “to give them more of that management background.”

“It also has given us more of an opportunity for students who start out as something else [in the health care field] to take another avenue in health care, but not necessarily at the bedside,” said Spurr. “The biggest piece was to look for that business component of health care. Many people don’t think of it as that way, but whether the health care agency is for-profit or not-for-profit, if they’re not able to meet their basic business standards, then their services will suffer.”

According to Spurr, the MSBC program approached the BSHS program via the latter’s previous director, allowing both programs to piggyback off each other to develop business-savvy health care practitioners. The new track is being taken by 75 students as of this writing, according to Spurr, excluding those going into either occupational therapy or athletic training. The track is also unique to Spalding University, as similar programs around the United States—most of which are online—are more focused on technology and hands-on work than “the other, equally important side of health care.”

How important is the MSBC program to the overall grand scheme of things? More than you can know at first glance, especially if you’re an employer.

“When we talk to employers around Louisville,” said Spurr, “the very first thing they say is, ‘You can teach them technical skills, but they also need to be able to communicate, to write, and to understand.’ Managers and employers are saying, ‘That’s what we need. We need people to show up on time. We need people to show initiative, be creative, and have the ability to innovate.’ I know that’s what a lot of employers, not only in health care but across every sector, are looking for in their employees. Spalding’s MSBC program can help develop those types of critical skills, regardless of where you work.”

Are you ready to take the first step into a career in health while also improving the important skills needed to succeed no matter what capacity you enter the workforce? If so, Spalding University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Master of Science in Business Communication degree track is the one for you.

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