Sara Rattigan, MS ('09)
Health Communication Specialist and Outreach Coordinator
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Sara Rattigan (MS, '09) knows that good communication at work keeps people safe. As an outreach coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Rattigan focuses on preventing workplace injuries through the department's Occupational Health Surveillance program. "We go out in the field, investigate safety issues, make recommendations, and raise awareness," she says.
Rattigan primarily educates working teens (and those who work with teens), many of whom are employed in industries with high risk of injury, such as fast food restaurants, supermarkets, and retail. She recently participated in a leadership academy for teens, where she taught participants about hazards in the workplace, child labor laws, and young workers' rights.
Currently, she is also beginning to implement a fall prevention campaign targeted at Massachusetts construction workers; the campaign aims to improve communication between supervisors and their workers. According to Rattigan, "a culture of safety really stems from the top. Supervisors need to communicate more effectively with staff in order to prevent falls. So we are creating a range of print and other media pieces to facilitate that conversation."
Rattigan calls her work "very exciting" and her MS-HCOM degree invaluable. "Every day, I weave the skills I learned at Tufts into my job." Her degree taught her to be particularly mindful of health literacy - ensuring that audiences can understand the health information they receive.
"Health literacy is critical to improved health outcomes. You don't help anyone if you put out materials that people either don't notice, or worse, don't understand. It's important to think about the kind of media you sue, whom you are targeting, and the vulnerabilities and cultural differences within the populations you are trying to reach," she says. "Good communication around health-related topics can save money, provide resources, limit health disparities, and keep people safe."