From left to right: Dr. Nicoleta Corbu, Dr. Tudor Vlad, Dr. Charles Davis, Dr. Remus Pricopie and Dr. Alina Bargaoanu. Photo provided by Bianca Cheregi.
Program In Romania Focuses On Health Communication
Dr. Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that issues related to immunization that had been raised by Romanian speakers also exist in the United States.
“When I was a child, the vaccination took place in school,” Dr. Davis told the forty-five participants in the two-day conference. “We were lined in the hall, got the shot and went back to our classrooms. Now, the insurance companies are involved, the process is more complex, and sometimes debates are artificially stimulated by dubious stories on the Internet.”
The Health Communication and Social Content conference was organized in Bucharest in late October by the College of Communication and Public Relations at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania, and by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. The Cox International Center is an international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Dr. Cătălin Cîrstoveanu, chief of the Intensive care Unit for Newborns, Marie Curie Hospital, Romania, emphasized the role of communication in the relationship with parents of babies, saying that physicians should show empathy and always take time to answer questions.
Sarah Smith from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA provided participants with strategies for crisis communication within an emergency response setting. “The workshop offered a unique opportunity to share my own experiences working in CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness in Response and in the CDC 24/7 Emergency Operations Center as the Zika Response Chief of Staff, while also learning from the audience regarding health communications efforts and emergency response activities within the Romanian public health and healthcare sectors. I provided students, faculty and invited guests with an opportunity to hear about careers in public health and health communications and exchanged ideas on topics related to preparedness and response in a scenario-based case study format. Our visit also allowed an opportunity to share information on public health student outreach and recruitment with the University of Bucharest as they explore the development of a health communications certificate program.”
Dr. Jeff Springston, associate dean for research and graduate studies of the Grady College, and Ms. Sarah Smith, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, presenting at the Health Communication seminar. Photo provided by Bianca Cheregi.
Dr. Jeff Springston, associate dean for research and graduate studies of the Grady College made two presentations that focused on health communication. One talk looked at health communication from a broad perspective, and the other talk focused specifically on communicating about vaccination.
Drs. Davis and Springston also had the opportunity to talk with reporters from several Romanian media outlets about his participation in the workshop, and about the recent law passed in Romania making childhood vaccinations compulsory.
Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center, summarized an evaluation report of two health journalism programs organized by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
“Cox Center researchers worked for one year to assess the impact of the Knight Public Health Journalism Fellowship and the Knight Public Health Journalism Boot Camp on the participating journalists, on the media outlets where they worked and on the audiences,” said Dr. Vlad. “We used interviews, content analysis, control groups and focus groups to measure a variety of indicators. We were able to document that the programs stimulated the interest of the journalists, expanded their view of what is appropriate medical and health news, and increased their range of sources rather than change the technical character of what they wrote.”
About 45 people attended the two-day conference, the eighth held by the National University and the Cox International Center over as many years.
Dr. Alina Bargaoanu, dean of the College of Communication and Public Relations, praised that collaboration in opening the conference. “Almost every year we have tried to select topics that are important and relevant both for Romanian and American media experts,” Dr. Bargaoanu told the audience. “As an example, last year we focused on the dynamics and challenges within the European Union exactly in the day when Great Britain voted for the Brexit.”
Dr. Vlad said that more than 25 workshops, conferences and faculty exchanges have been organized in nine years of partnership between the University of Georgia and the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, and 15 books and studies have been published as a result of the joint research.