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Professor examines communication in health settings

by Jeanne Baron

Dec. 5, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Julie Apker.
KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University faculty member has penned a book that explores the communication processes, issues and concepts that influence the lives of patients, health professionals and other members of health institutions.

"Communication in Health Organizations" by Dr. Julie Apker, associate professor of communication, integrates scholarship from communication, medicine, nursing, public health and allied health.

A comprehensive review of the research literature, the book offers students, health practitioners and others a unique multidisciplinary perspective of communication issues affecting today's health-care system. It was published in October by Polity Press.

"At last, a well-written and compelling book that surveys the forms and functions of communication in health organizations," one reviewer wrote. "For anyone working in a caring profession or interested in the communicative challenges of complex health systems, this is a must-read."

In the book, Apker explains the complexities and contingencies of communication in health settings using systems theory, an approach that enhances understanding of health organizing. In the process, she familiarizes readers with how health institutions function communicatively, and why health professionals interact as they do.

The text provides multiple opportunities to analyze communication occurring in health organizations and to apply communication skills to personal experiences. This knowledge may improve communication between patients, employees or consumers.

Apker joined the WMU faculty in 2001 and conducts research in organizational and health communication. She serves on the editorial boards of Health Communication and Communication Monographs and has been published in numerous scholarly journals.

Her specializations include physician communication patterns and strategies that affect patient safety; development and negotiation of caregiver roles, particularly communicative behaviors that affect bedside care delivery and caregiver identity; and communicative and organizational stressors affecting quality of work life, job satisfaction and retention.

Apker earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas.