Center for Health Communication director leads new partnership with Dell Medical School

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lorin Garabedian | Daily Texan Staff

The newly appointed director to the Center for Health Communication will help oversee the Center’s move to a joint partnership between the Moody School of Communication and the Dell Medical School.

The partnership, taking place this summer, will increase collaboration between communication and health care students, as both schools oversee and support the Center. The new director, Michael Mackert, who is also an advertising professor, said he wants to further the Center’s research. 

“Given what they’re trying to do and what we have expertise in, it was a really natural fit to make the Center a joint academic center,” Mackert said.

Mackert, who teaches at the Center, said he hopes it will gain more attention within the health communication world. 

“There’s this extra level of visibility with the medical school as it grows,” Mackert said. “(The partnership) gives us that permanent connection with them. Having people specifically located down at the (Dell Medical School) to be there as part of their meetings will be a whole new way of operating.” 

Dean Clay Johnston of the Dell Medical School said the partnership reflects his belief that effective health communication is critical to the health of patients. 

“There has been a fair amount of data that shows that the connection a doctor makes with a patient, which is a relationship based on communication, is probably more important to the health of the patient than the individual decisions that the doctor makes,” Johnston said. “Building that into the way we train physicians and all health professionals can have a major impact in the health care system.”

UT alumna Beth Ann Williamson took Mackert’s health communication class when she was an advertising graduate student. Williamson said working closely with nursing students gave her a unique learning opportunity. 

“Some of (marketing basics) can be taught, but the things that can’t be taught are what you can learn from each other, like just having sympathy for the other side,” Williamson said. “It made me a better marketer, because I was able to understand what the actual practitioners were doing on the health industry side.”