Vic Management Interns' blog

Blog posts by Victorian Management Interns of the Australasian College of Health Service Management. Views are those of the individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management interns’ host organisations or employers.

Tais Lildaree
Tais Lildaree

Health Management Interns, ACHSM

Communication easy to say but what does it mean?

Author: Caitlyn Brennan

Date: September 18

A management position description always appears to have some similar themes and key criteria: Are you an effective communicator? A strong communicator that can effectively lead? Demonstrated effective verbal and written communication skills? Communication is always a required skill but what does this really mean?    

Prior to entering the Health Management Intern Program I would, have considered myself a “good communicator”. As I journey through the Program I reflect on what this actually means and how I have developed my communication skills and techniques and adapted them for different situations.

I grew up in the regional Victorian town of Wodonga. Following high school I completed my Bachelor of Oral Health in Wagga Wagga and was fortunate enough after graduating to gain employment at a Public Dental Clinic which was part of Albury Community Health.

Communication in this role was directed along clinical lines. I worked with a broad range of patients, treating both children and adults from a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds. I also had the opportunity to work with numerous visiting dental specialists and work collaboratively with my co-workers.  Communication is a key component of the oral health therapist role, be it communication to promote compliance, with a family or as one-on-one patient education or health promotion to community groups.

During my time in Albury I was also fortunate enough to be a member of numerous project teams, clinical redesign and electronic medical record platform projects. Communication between the project team had to be maintained with various stakeholder groups over a large geographical area. This challenge required adaptation to more technical communication requirements for the project group and engagement style communication with stakeholders.

Prior to the internship program, I also had the opportunity to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students as an academic mentor, as a University clinical supervisor and also as a group fitness instructor. Development of key communication skills was paramount to these roles in different ways. Mentoring and clinically supervising students required an understanding of the way that an individual learns and using a communication style that built on this to assist them to reach success. Furthermore, as a fitness coach instructing a group of varying ages, shapes and sizes to participate in a high intensity cardio class required the use of communication tools to motivate and maintain safety.

Last year I completed a Master of Public Health by distance and was exposed to online written communication where a platform for receiving feedback and utilising discussion boards to engage with other students from across the country and internationally was utilised.

Prior to the Intern Program I have had exposure to communication in many different shapes and forms. However, the Intern Program has further expanded my understanding of the broad spectrum of the term “communication”.

My first placement in the Program was at a large regional health organisation that provided me exposure to many new types of communication. Understanding and appreciating the differences between the style of communication required for staff information bulletins to that of a formal communication that will be reviewed by the Executive and the Board, was vital and presented a challenge at times.

My current placement is at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. This has further exposed me to some different ways of communication such as how information is appropriately disseminated both up and down to the organisation hierarchy and to Ministers and Parliament.

Communication is a term that is used in many varied contexts. As I go through the Internship Program I am continually exposed to the many shapes and forms in which communication occurs (e.g. verbal, non-verbal, top-down, bottom up, formal, informal). This enables me to develop the insight to understand which type of language is best suited for different situations.

As an emerging health service manager I hear repeatedly that poor communication is the underlying cause of many issues and conflict and effective communication is the answer!  As I reflect on all the communication vehicles I have seen and used I wonder if the word communication can truly capture the complexity of all it means….

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