The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Health Communications: A grad’s perspective

Posted by Rhonda Bowen on January 18, 2008


by Rhonda Bowen, Corporate Communications & PR ’08

For many, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) represents one of Canada’s most significant documented health crises. For Nadia Radovini, Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, it was a career experience like no other.

“SARS was one of the most intense crisis communications situations anyone could go through,” she says of the respiratory illness which was first reported in Canada in March 2003 and which, worldwide, killed 800 people. “It was overwhelming for even the most seasoned professional.”

Radovini’s up-close view of this particular crisis is due to the fact that Sunnybrook was the main hospital handling the outbreak. She notes that, during the emergency period, there was pressure not only on the doctors and hospital medical staff, but also on the communications staff.

“We handled the media relations and internal communications around SARS and that was quite the process,” she says. “We helped coordinate rallies to support staff and organized forums to communicate what was happening. Things could have gone either way with the rumour mill. People needed to be informed.”

Media Relations in particular was an area which became increasingly complex. “When we were quarantined we weren’t allowed to let any media inside the hospital,” she says. “Until that point we had tons of media coming in. Now we had to think about how we could proactively help the media report on things.”

This need led them to find creative ways to communicate with the media, such as producing their own B-roll hospital footage. It ensured that media received current information on what was happening.

As a graduate of Centennial’s Corporate Communication and Public Relations program, Radovini notes that the skills she acquired have been a significant aid in her career. “The writing and analytical skills, trying to figure out what your audience needs to know, as well as knowing what to ask the specialists – I find that everything I learned at Centennial makes up my hands-on public relations skills.”

Despite the SARS health crisis and the looming possibilities of future health emergencies, she has not wavered in her enthusiasm towards health communications. She maintains that she has always felt pulled in this direction. Her volunteer and work experience at Credit Valley Hospital, as well as her internship at the Canadian Hearing Society, all attest to this.

“I always knew I wanted to do something that had meaning to it,” she explains. “I wanted to do something I felt good about at the end of the day.”

She encourages current students to use the program to their advantage. “It’s one of the best intensive programs there is in public relations in Toronto.”


4 Responses to “Health Communications: A grad’s perspective”

  1. […] January 18, 2008 by Gary Schlee Rhonda’s profile of Nadia Radovini — one of our grads working at Sunnybrook Health Sciences — can now be found at […]

  2. Good work, Rhonda! I enjoyed this article. It’s interesting that by focusing primarily on one incident, you can understand the pressures that come from working in health communications.

    It’s nice to see Radovini using the language she was taught (and we’re currently learning) at Centennial, such as, “Now we had to think about how we could proactively help the media report on things.”

  3. […] post by rkbowen Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web […]

  4. Christine Smith said

    Good overview. Nice to catch up on the life and times of a memorable student, now a memorable communicator.

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