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University of Michigan

Foundational Skills for Communicating About Health

University of Michigan via Coursera


Effective communication is a core skill that nearly every health professional will need and use during their careers. Yet, few health professionals receive even basic training in how to design communications to be clear and successful. As “foundational skills,” the content in this course can be applied to both oral and written communication, within and beyond health. Learners will develop the skills to: analyze and tailor a communication effort for different audiences, develop clear messages, create logical and compelling stories, understand and apply important considerations with language as well as nonverbal communication. This course is valuable and appropriate for both beginning and experienced health professionals who need to communicate effectively with other professionals, patients, policymakers, or the broader public.. Content is relevant to public health professionals, clinicians of all types (medical, nursing, dentists, social work, etc.), health advocates, and scientists and researchers in any health domain..


  • Week 1
    • In Week 1, we will consider how knowing your audience and your specific goals are the critical first steps to designing effective communications.
  • Week 2
    • In Week 2, we will focus on developing clear takeaway messages so that communications can achieve their objectives.
  • Week 3
    • This week, we focus on using plain language to avoid jargon, and continue to practice finding a clear central message.
  • Week 4
    • In Week 4, we will learn how to use narrative forms to tell the story of science and how to think about the larger macro-structures of messages, especially when your message is designed to advocate for your central point.
  • Week 5
    • In Week 5, we will learn oral presentation skills, create a final written assignment summarizing a scientific article for a different audience, and (optionally) create a short video presentation for a public audience.

Taught by

Brian Zikmund-Fisher


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 112 ratings

Start your review of Foundational Skills for Communicating About Health

  • Lyneth Velasco Rosales
    One of the best online courses I've taken so far. Fair in terms of difficulty. The lessons can be applicable across disciplines. Well done. :)

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