Talking about Health and Medicine

No one has a greater need for effective communication skills than health and medical professionals. The Alda Center offers specialized programs to help students, practitioners, and researchers interact more effectively with the public, with patients, and with each other.

-from Evonne Kaplan-Liss, Director of the Advanced Certificate in Health Communications at Stony Brook.

In the last three years, we have conducted presentations or workshops for:

National Cancer Institute
Weill Cornell Medical College
Mount Sinai Medical Center
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Nassau County (NY) Department of Health
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Council of Academic Societies (AAMC)
American Physiological Society
And many more…

On-Campus Programs

At our home campus, Stony Brook University, we offer an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Health Communications, in collaboration with the Graduate Program in Public Health. Students typically include medical students, public health students, physicians, nurses, health outreach and education workers, and health counselors.

In addition, we offer an elective in Communicating Health Sciences open to medical, nursing and dental medicine students. This course, which includes use of improvisational theater exercises, has been featured on the CBS Sunday Morning News. CBS News Sunday Morning – Alan Alda Students report that it helps them in many ways.

Alan Alda works with a group of medical students to improve their improv technique.

Alan Alda works with a group of medical students to improve their improv technique.

Improv and the class overall has impacted my studying and view of my other classes because I was so focused on the science/vocab all the time that I forgot how it felt not to know, and trying to explain in simple terms via improv on the spot really challenged my ability to communicate; in addition translating complex science via a system has helped me perform better in school because I can now translate for myself the complex things we read into simple language to learn it better.

– First-year medical student

It’s a refreshing perspective on our training . . . and it has helped me in terms of practicing my public speaking and also has served as therapy in some ways.

– Second-year medical student

Served to reinforce the importance of “distilling” my message in a way that’s easy to digest.

– PhD nursing student

The course was different than our clinical stimulations because we practice with trained patients who know exactly what to say and how to react to our statements and they never seem confused or question why we are asking unrelated questions to their chief complaint…in the improv sessions I quickly realized that not only do I have to ask the right questions, but also I have to explain to the patient why I am asking those seemingly unrelated questions…

– First-year medical student

Legendary Actor Alan Alda Visits Weill Cornell’s Oates Communications Skills Curriculum