As a COM alumna and former editor at The COMmunicator, Amanda Hazeltine (COM ’06) has always been passionate about science and healthcare. Working with different healthcare organizations for over a decade and now pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Amanda can’t stress enough the importance of possessing communications skills in the workplace.
Greta Tang: How has coming from a communication background helped your career in nursing?
Amanda Hazeltine: Communications is a wonderful field in that its applications in real-world settings are endless. No matter what industry you go into, strong communications skills are imperative to effective team collaboration, efficiency and success in developing and implementing any initiative, campaign or project. What I learned at COM was to understand how to contextualize situations and approach communications with a big-picture strategy that is informed by your target audience, objectives, research and best practices. The communications skills I learned at COM serve me well to this day as a nurse collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to care for our patients, as well as in my role as a scholar at UMass Chan Medical School implementing quality improvement projects to enhance clinical effectiveness and patient care.
Some students might be worried that it’s too late to pursue an out-of-box career because they will need to study new subjects, which might take years of learning. What’s your take on that?
I believe it’s never too late to pursue an out-of-the-box career. I started as a biology major and instead graduated with a bachelor’s in public administration and psychology and a minor in healthcare administration. From there I studied at COM and earned my master’s in public relations. My first job was working at a healthcare PR agency where I gained a lot of experience working with clients in both the public and private sectors — ranging from biopharmaceutical and consumer health companies to government health agencies. I grew up in the agency world and learned many lifelong skills that I still apply to all my roles today.
From there, I went in-house and worked in communications for a nonprofit healthcare organization, as well as other Boston-area hospitals, before finding myself in a program management role. My passion has always been healthcare and science, but it was my family’s experience with cancer that inspired me to pursue nursing. I took a Certified Nursing Assistant course and started working as a per diem patient care technician in addition to my full-time career to gain experience before applying to graduate nursing programs.
My career path has actually come full circle in a way back to that freshman in college who was interested in biology, science and healthcare. I’m now working as an oncology nurse, and pursuing my doctoral degree in nursing. It’s never too late. Time is going to pass anyway. You might as well spend that time progressing towards your passion in life.
Do you have any advice for communications students who want to pursue a healthcare career in the future? Any advice or suggestions like what to start with upon graduation?
It depends on what type of healthcare communications. For example, if you have a passion for writing and you have an undergraduate background in health or the sciences, you could pursue a science writing career. Or you could work at a hospital if you’re more passionate about work that touches the lives of patients and families, and develop patient education materials and the like. You could instead choose to work in more industry-specific fields like biotech or pharmaceutical companies or pursue a career in public health. The possibilities are endless.
My advice is to gain as much exposure to fields that may interest you through internships, part-time jobs or volunteering. Get involved in on-campus organizations and offerings like The COMmunicator and PRLab. As someone who has recruited, interviewed and hired new staff, I look for candidates who demonstrate a passion for their field and a love for learning. And I look for examples of that in experiences they’ve pursued in the past but also their ideas for how they will continue to hone their craft in the future. So my advice is to get involved and to stay inquisitive.
Do you have any next steps on your career path? Any aspirations?
After this academic year, I will be eligible to take my adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner board exam. After I complete my DNP program, I aspire to work as an oncology/palliative care nurse practitioner. I also have a passion for quality improvement and program development to improve the care of patients and families. Perhaps in the future, I may be able to combine all of these passions in a role that allows me to lead these types of initiatives. I would also love to return to teaching as well.
Yige Greta Tang, Staff Writer
Yige Greta Tang is a second-year public relations graduate student. Prior to joining BU, she graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in media studies. Born and raised in Beijing, China, Greta moved to Chicago for high school in 2012. She has always been passionate about writing and is excited to be a writer for The COMmunicator this semester. Outside of the classroom, Greta loves to explore new restaurants and spend time with her dog, Thunder.