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Kate Foster

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What was your Undergrad Institution and Major?

College of Wooster, Major in Anthropology.

What piqued your interest to study health communication?

I’m a health services researcher, and many of the problems that I see in my work are centered around communication. I also knew that getting a health communication degree would set me apart from my peers, most of whom have an MPH.

Why is earning your MS at Northwestern important to you?

I remember going to an information session for the program, and Dr. Lambert spoke at length about the US health care system, the experience of illness in the US, and how many of the problems that persist in health care are actually about communication. Dr. Lambert said that by applying a health communication mindset to some of the problems we see in health care, we might not be able to fix the system, but we can make meaningful improvements. That really spoke to me. The MSHC program is aimed at making small but meaningful improvements to health care, and as someone who wants their work to make a difference, that was important to me!

What are your career goals?

I would like to establish myself in my field of health services research. My long-term goal is to focus on user experience research to optimize messaging and products for patients.

Any tips on balancing school, work, and life?

1)Keep a planner. I live and die by my planner. 2) Set realistic goals. Figure out what you want out of the program, and it’ll relieve some of the burden to be perfect and sign up for everything and anything. 3) Go easy on yourself. There are inevitably going to be days where you won’t be able to cross every item off your to-do list.

What tips/resources have you used in virtual learning?

Honestly, my classmates are my biggest resource! We have a MSHC group chat where we talk about assignments, ask questions, and occasionally complain about homework. Everyone in the program is incredibly smart and driven. Even though most of us haven’t met in person yet, we still lean on each other and lift each other up.

What is your favorite part of the program so far?

Class! I look forward to Saturdays. I love coming together (virtually) with so many smart people from a variety of backgrounds. COVID-19 and current events inevitably enter every discussion, and we have some very interesting conversations.

What are you looking forward to in the program?

I’m looking forward to our classes this Winter, Spring, and Summer, particularly classes about human-computer interaction and UX research/design.

How do you practice self-care while in the program?

Make time for exercise! I work at home full time, so depending on how much work and studying I have to do, I could be spending up to 12 hours at my desk on a given day. Even if I only have time for a quick walk around my neighborhood, it makes a huge difference!

How has communication changed for you since starting the program?

I have already been able to make many connections between my work and what I’m learning in class. More and more often, I find myself viewing work problems through a communication mindset.