Millennials: Game Changers in Health Communications

We are all caretakers, just as we are all children, siblings, spouses, parents, friends, and even patients. When a loved one is sick, we all experience the gnawing preoccupation over their well-being. We scour the internet until 3 a.m. searching for answers. We look for just the right physician with just the right specialization. We call our brother’s best friend’s sister, a doctor who may have a medical connection we can use.

On the surface we’re gathering information that could potentially facilitate our loved one’s recovery. But what we’re really searching for is hope.

My career in communications has been spent building and working on diverse teams of health communicators. The common thread that binds us all together is that we have a shared passion stemming from these experiences. For many of us, it’s why we got into the field in the first place. Our experience as a patient or caretaker is a large part of what makes us passionate about sharing the potential of new medical developments and treatment options. We sleep easier at night knowing we played a small role in creating new hope.

It’s no secret that the health landscape is changing rapidly. Over the past 20 years, science has moved from broad-based population treatments to customized healthcare treatment decisions tailored to each specific patient. In addition, the rise in information availability has put an overwhelming amount of complex health information at patient’s fingertips. The field of communications itself is also evolving, becoming increasingly multi-faceted, fast-paced and digital.

Health communicators are on both front lines, making sure patients and their caregivers are able to keep pace with understanding advancements in health, breaking the science down and making information understandable, accessible and relevant – all in new ways.

As I look to the future, at the massive health innovations on the horizon, I can see great opportunity. Particularly for individuals who are passionate about helping, who want to make the world a better place and who thrive on lending their skills to help the greater good.

Health communications is a tough job. It requires dedication, grit and perseverance. Some say it’s a higher calling, while all say it gives a sense of purpose.

Coincidentally, this is exactly what millennials want. A recent Deloitte survey found that 6 out of 10 millennials cited “a sense of purpose” as part of their calculation in accepting a new role. Once in a position, studies show that the main factor in whether millennials will remain at their company or not (beyond compensation and benefits) is having their passions used and fulfilled (53%).

In fact, another study found that 62% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company (the U.S. average is 56%), suggesting millennials will make tradeoffs for work that they feel helps the greater good.

All this is to say: millennials have the passion to be game-changing health communicators.

As this next generation enters the work force, it will be crucial to find those whose passions align with the mission of health communications and want to work to help patients and make a difference, as well as those who can navigate and adapt in the quickly changing landscapes.

There is a huge opportunity to inspire the millennial generation to massively disrupt the health and science communications field, to work tirelessly to find innovative ways to provide vital health information to those who need it most. And at the end of the day, health communicators of all generations—those who are in the field today and those who will be in the field tomorrow—will sleep a little easier believing that we’ve all played some small part in igniting new hope.

This article was originally published in MM&M.

Michelle Gross is a managing director leading the biopharma practice with over 20 years of communications experience working with the top global pharma brands.

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