Legacy Health Services Creates a Position for Health Communication Graduate
School of Communication Studies alumna Maria Fazio accepted a full-time position, created specifically for her, as a Patient and Family Satisfaction Coordinator at Legacy Health Services after graduating with her master’s degree in health communication in May 2013.
Fazio, who received her bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University in communication studies and business, has always had a passion for the health industry and finds joy working with the elderly.
“When I was younger, I would be out with my mom and I'd always want to help the older people I saw. Whether it be opening the door or carrying a bag to the car for them,” she said. “I also volunteered at a nursing home throughout middle school as an activities assistant and loved it. I would tell my mom about all the residents I dealt with daily and she would always joke and say, ‘You can’t take them all home with you, Maria!’”
Fazio was introduced to the study of health communication by her undergraduate mentor, Dr. Michele Ramsey. Ramsey told Fazio about Kent State University’s communication studies graduate program, and it was exactly what she was looking for. Fazio applied, was accepted and received a graduate assistant position that funded her mater’s degree.
During Fazio’s time at Kent State, she was a full-time graduate teaching assistant and the primary instructor of three sections of an Introductory Human Communication course. In April 2013, she was the department recipient of the James Mignerey Collegiality Award for her dedicated work ethic, assistance with extracurricular activities in the school and her upbeat, friendly personality.
“Going into this role I was petrified. I had never taken a public speaking class in my life and thought to myself, ‘how am I possibly going to teach it to others,’” she said. “But I prepared myself as best as possible and tried to create effective and interactive lesson plans for my students. It paid off when I received the Master Teacher Award in the spring 2012 out of everyone in my cohort. I learned a lot about myself in this role and it really helped me grow as an individual and professional.”
Fazio was also a health communication intern and Hospice volunteer with Summa at Home during her last semester. Her main duty was to redevelop the 16 hour orientation and training program for new hospice volunteers.
“While completing this internship, I was also a hospice volunteer and would visit with dying patients which was a very rewarding and humbling experience. It opened my eyes to compassionate care,” she said. “I also went through hospice with both of my grandparents so it was an experience that hit close to home for me.”
According to Legacy Health Services website, LHS operates “ 11 skilled nursing facilities throughout Northern Ohio. We seek to provide our residents with the care and services necessary to meet all of their clinical and non-clinical needs by hiring the best people we can find.” Fazio’s position with Legacy Health Services is meant to help increase resident and family satisfaction rates for the company and resolve any complaints or concerns. She hopes to create a welcoming and comfortable resource for residents and families to rely on if they should ever need anything.
“I'm most excited to work with this population and to do something that makes a difference in someone's life; to know they are cared for and that their experience with us matters and they should be nothing but 110 percent satisfied with our facility, staff and care,” Fazio said. “I also enjoy giving their family members the peace of mind that we will take complete care of their loved one during their stay. To me, that is just as important as keeping the resident happy and completely satisfied.”
During her time at KSU, Fazio was prepared for a career in health communication in many ways.
“College and graduate school have helped me prepare for my career by teaching me time management skills, and most importantly helping build my self-confidence. I learned a lot of valuable things that I can, and have applied to my career already and will continue to do so as I further my career,” she said. “After studying this field for two years and now being in the health care industry, I definitely realize the importance of competent and effective health care communication. Effective and competent communication between the patient and the provider remains necessary and a highly important factor to patient satisfaction and overall quality of care.”