The History of HeSCA

The Health and Science Communications Association (HeSCA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of education in health and science by means of varied contemporary educational technology. HeSCA was founded in 1959 as the Council on Medical Television (CMT). The parent organization of the CMT, the Institute for the Advancement of Medical Communication (IAMC), sought to provide a means whereby exchange of information and the resources of a variety of institutions could be focused on the use of television in the health sciences.

The Institute for Advancement of Medical Communication was founded in 1958 as an independent, non-profit organization devoted solely to promoting better communication among biomedical scientists and health science practitioners.

The Council on Medical Television had its beginnings at a conference on “Television and Post Graduate Medical Education” co-sponsored by the IAMC and the American Academy of General Practice. This conference was held at the National Institutes of Health February 28 and March 1, 1959. The final action of the conference, attended by representatives from medical education, health organizations, government and industry, was that of authorizing the IAMC to form within the framework of the Institute a continuing body called the Council on Medical Television.

The goals established at that time were: 1) to act as a clearing house for information relative to medical television, 2) to gather and disseminate data on experience of those facilities currently conducting programs for medical education, 3) to insure that information is generally available regarding audiovisual techniques and material which may be used for medical television programming, 4) to explore the possibility of designing studies of what types of production will best meet the varied needs of post-graduate medical education, and 5) to serve as a mechanism whereby the various resources of organizations concerned with continuing medical education can be brought to focus for effective attack on important problems.

On October 15 and 16, 1959, the first formal meeting of the Council on Medical Television was held at the National Institutes of Health. The organizational pattern for succeeding meetings was established at this time. Keynote speakers were chosen to provide a broad framework for later deliberations and to place medical television in proper perspective as an instrument with great possibilities for meeting the problem of effective, continuing education for practicing physicians and as a part of the efforts toward developing television as a tool for general higher education.

In order to carry on the business of the Council, an Executive Committee was elected at this meeting. The following were elected: Frank M. Woolsey, M.D., Chairman, Murray C. Brown, M.D., Thomas Coleman, Felton Davis, Jr., Edwin Foster, Ed.D., Herbert Hahn, Joseph E. Markee, Ph.D., Charles E. Nyberg, David S. Ruhe, M.D., Capt. Robert V. Schultz, MC USN, and Marion B. Sulzberger, M.D. These gentlemen held office until the next meeting of the Council.

The second meeting of the Council was held the following April 20-21, 1960, at the Clinical Center, NIH. The program was characterized by a broader base than that of the first meeting and included sessions devoted to discussion of television in the basic and clinical undergraduate teaching programs as well as in postgraduate medical education. The organization of the Council was completed at this meeting and enthusiasm was generated for future meetings. Medical educators, communication experts, representatives of government and industry attended this meeting.

During the fall of 1960, an institute for medical educators was held in Gainesville, Florida, at the University of Florida Medical Center and Station WUFT-TV. This institute concerned itself with the theme: “Teaching with Television.” Although predominantly in attendance at this meeting were persons representing schools of medicine, there were a number of other health sciences schools represented, notably dentistry. From this point in time, the Council began seriously to realize its role in the propagation of television information among all facets of health sciences education.

The Third Annual Meeting, again held at the Clinical Center, NIH, was preceded by a “Dental TV Teaching Institute,’ held April 5, 1961. The program for this institute was directed toward specifics of television for dental education, and was attended principally by dental educators. Notably in attendance, however, were educators and television practitioners from other health sciences.
Television in nursing education was introduced in the Fourth Annual Meeting at NIH, May 15-16, 1962. Because of the interest on the part of nursing educators, a Nursing Section was added to CMT membership in 1962.

On May 6, 1963, the Fifth Annual Meeting convened with a Dental Section and a Nursing Section meetings. By this time, the IAMC had fulfilled its role as catalyst, the need for CMT had been well established, and its organization was secure. The Council set out in the summer of 1963 to reorganize as a separate entity. This reorganization was completed in January, 1964, when the Council was incorporated under the laws of the State of North Carolina as a nonprofit corporation.

Today’s HeSCA

The current mission of the Health and Science Communications Association is to advance an international community of professionals dedicated to promoting excellence in health and science communications through leadership, education, and the application of technology.

The foundation for our network is built upon our unique membership which has created opportunities for unlimited exchange of information and support. International in scope and diverse in background, our members broadly describe themselves as biomedical communicators. From conceptualization to final products, our members are involved in designing, producing, implementing, and evaluating informational and instructional media experiences for the health sciences.

HeSCA promotes excellence in the profession, fosters leadership, and enhances collaboration across disciplines. We are committed to lifelong learning, professionalism, service to others, and our community of peers.

Agnello, Sam A. – 7th Annual Meeting of the Council of Medical Television: A History of the Council on Medical Television, 1965
Ramey, James W. – Television: Growing Pains of a New Teaching Medium. J. Med. Educ., 39:1107-1113, 1964.
Romano, M. T. – Television in Dental Education, J. Dent. Educ., 28:431-488, 1964.

John K. Mackenzie’s “The Smith, Kline & French Medical Color TV Unit”