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Kathleen Hill

Kathleen Hill

What is your hometown?
I am from Olney, IL famous for white squirrels.

What are your interests/hobbies?
I like to scuba dive and have been to Australia, Caribbean, the Galapagos islands, Greece and many other destinations. I also sing and have had a chance to sing at Buddy Guy’s Legends, Andy’s Jazz showcase, and with Foreigner. My regular group is my church choir. I also am a board member for Life Matters Media a non-profit helping people understand the importance of having quality conversations and documenting their end-of-life wishes.

What are your favorite Chicago activities?
My husband and I enjoy trying new highly rated restaurants. We also go to plays, musicals and concerts. We are looking forward to seeing U-2 again this summer.

Did you work full time through the program?
I did work full-time through the program. It was not easy but I found myself applying what I learned daily. I enjoyed speaking with healthcare professionals about their communications best-practices and challenges.

Was time commitment reasonable?
Since the program was only a year, I was able to focus knowing I could catch up on social commitments later. I have a lot of friends and family to see over the holiday! Some classes were more time-consuming so I recommend starting projects early to avoid crunch-time stress.

Were you able to balance work and school?
Yes. I had to work on Sunday to get it all done but took Monday nights off if I could. Work travel could complicate things but noise-cancelling headphones on the plane were key!

Professionally, what are you doing now?
I am a sales representative for a Biotech company focusing on “Doing Now What Patients Need Next.” I have attended conferences and participated in work projects that I would not have been attracted to in the past, but now I have new area of interest: patient engagement, the US Healthcare marketplace and changing health behavior.

Tell us about a “Northwestern moment.” More specifically, was there a moment either in class or otherwise associated with the program where something really clicked for you?
The US Healthcare class was key in understanding the system and the dynamic environment in which we are doing business. I now read health news reports and follow mergers, policy and trends in the marketplace more than before the program. I have a better understanding of the whole system of healthcare and how improved communication can make a difference to patients. Patient engagement helped me understand the barriers to healthcare and the importance of incorporating the patient voice to improve outcomes.

How has the program changed the way you view healthcare?
I have an increased understanding of the challenges we face in healthcare and have become an advocate for patients. Disparities and the social determinants of health are real issues and I feel that healthcare access is vital. I also see how important primary care-patient relationships can be activating individuals to be an advocate for their own heath.

Did you discover anything new or unexpected at Northwestern?
I particularly enjoyed the weekly talks by professionals in the industry. These presentations opened my eyes to all the ways health communication may be incorporated into different professions including film, advertising, non-profit and more. I also loved the healthcare design class which taught me design thinking, something I did not expect from a communication degree.