How to become a public relations officer in Nigeria’s Healthcare Sector

Becoming a public relations officer in any organization in the healthcare sector in Nigeria is a dream many graduates of communication and related disciplines seek to achieve. Public relations is an interesting profession with a lot of prospects in the Nigerian healthcare sector. The healthcare sector in Nigeria comprises hospitals or medical centers, health insurance providers or health care based government and non-governmental organizations.

What do PR officers do in the healthcare sector?

Someone people might be wondering whether public relations officers are needed in the hospital where issues of healthcare are involved. Well, image management is very essential to the growth of serious hospital. This is because hospitals are business outfits and need good relationship with their publics to remain in business.
Public relations officers in the health care industry are responsible for maintaining the desired image of a health care facility in the public eye. As such, they must be knowledgeable about the internal workings of the facility and must also be aware of its strategic objectives. They need very essential skills such as good people skills and strong interpersonal communication skills to excel as PR officers. A strong network of media contacts and having exceptional persuasive writing skills can also be an asset. There is need for good media relations skills to keep the public informed about organization’s activities.
A public relations officer in the hospital or health care industry is the spokesperson and face of the institution he represents. Among his responsibilities include preparing and disseminating press releases and holding press conferences, arranging interviews with hospital administrators and, occasionally, with health care providers. A public relations representative fields questions about new services, exciting developments and advances in treatment options, expansion efforts, cutting-edge equipment, specialties and high-profile medical trials and undertakings.

Education Requirements

To be a public relations officer in a hospital or anyother healthcare institution you are required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, marketing or hospital administration. In a large teaching or research hospital, in which multiple layers make up the image that the health care organization wants to project, advanced education or training in public speaking, journalism or promotions may also be desired. But you can also become a PR officer without a first degree in any of the disciplines mentioned here. All you need is a diploma in journalism, public relations or related discipline then you can pursue a career in public relations.

Healthcare Industry

Hospitals are not the only institutions in the healthcare sector. Public relations officers in this sector may be employed with hospitals or medical centers, medical complexes, high-profile specialty or private practices, or with health care insurance providers. Health care public relations officers may also be employed in marketing or public relations firms that specialize in corporate health care public relations. Still others may serve in a freelance or consulting capacity. There are also healthcare based non-governmental organizations in Nigeria which can employ public relations officers.

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Years of Experience

As with most professions, the more experience you have in a position, the greater your earnings potential. Health care public relations officers who develop reliable media contacts over the course of their careers and become well-versed in common issues of interest to the press can enjoy significant success. Effective PR professionals usually have established rapport with news reporters and writers, and the better connected one is, the more desirable they are as an employee. But without experience you can also grow on the job.

Summing Up

Note that you can become a public relations officer without a first degree in mass communication or journalism. After your first degree in any discipline you can get a diploma in public relations by enrolling in Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) training school or any other recognized institutions. You can also get a diploma in communication or related discipline and you’re good to go in achieving your dream of becoming a public relations officer in health care sector.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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