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Fellowship application deadline is Monday

Get hands-on medical research training — at the source.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has teamed up with the National Library of Medicine to present the AHCJ-NLM Fellowships. AHCJ will select four journalists to spend a week on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Enhance your medical and scientific reporting through this specialized fellowship.

The application deadline is Aug. 3.

HOW I DID IT: Latest updates

robotic surgery
Photo: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital via Flickr

Fall workshop on evidence-based medicine

Learn how to use evidence-based skills to evaluate and report on medical research sent out in press releases, published or presented at conferences.

Get instruction about how to tap into research tools, make sense of statistics and understand screening decisions.

The limited-seating workshop will be Oct. 29 & 30 in Washington, D.C.

Registration and hotel information will be available soon.

Master your market: Data on insurance under the ACA

AHCJ webcast

Recording & data now available

Find out how to get information on insurance carriers in each state – their enrollment, premiums collected, claims incurred, and several measures of utilization, including hospital admissions and hospital days, and also physician and non-physician ambulatory care visits.

Katherine Hempstead, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Annual Exhibit on Enrollment, Premiums, and Utilization for 2014.

Open fellowship opportunities

AHCJ has teamed up with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to present the AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness Research. A select group of fellows will be chosen to spend a week in Washington, D.C., learning how to write more accurate, in-depth stories on medical research and discovering how medical decisions are made.

The application deadline is Sept. 1.

The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance is a yearlong program allowing journalists to pursue a significant reporting project related to the U.S. health care system. Fellows pursue the projects with the support of their newsrooms or freelance outlets, which commit to publish or air the work.

The application deadline is Nov. 2.


Jeanne Erdmann and Mary Shedden
Jeanne Erdmann and Mary Shedden

New AHCJ board named for 2015-16  

Jeanne Erdmann, an independent journalist based in Missouri, and Mary Shedden, editor of Health News Florida, join four incumbents in being seated on the Association of Health Care Journalists' 2015-16 board of directors.

Incumbents starting a new two-year term include AHCJ President Karl Stark, of The Philadelphia Inquirer; AHCJ Treasurer Felice J. Freyer, of The Boston Globe; Gideon Gil, of The Boston Globe; and Maryn McKenna, an Atlanta-based independent journalist.

Find and cover health stories in rural America

Rural Health Journalism WorkshopMore than 70 journalists and experts in health care and policy gathered for AHCJ’s eighth Rural Health Journalism Workshop to focus on the medical challenges of rural areas.

Topics included challenges of rural hospitals, mental health care, underserved places, culture and health, recruiting and preparing providers, and what journalists need to know about rural health.

Watch for speakers' presentations, tip sheets, blog posts and other resources from the workshop as we get them posted this week. 

Freelancers' Corner:
Resources just for independent journalists

Freelance PitchFest at Health Journalism 2015Writers pitch their story ideas to editors during the Freelance Pitchfest at Health Journalism 2015. (Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ)

AHCJ's re-vamped Freelancers' Corner offers resources and advice on topics that our independent members often deal with.

Get tips on pitching to publications, what to look for in contracts, how to make sure you're insured properly, developing business plans and handling finance. Learn more about how and where to spend precious time networking, as well as valuable information about how to build your brand. Successful and experienced members will offer nuggets of advice in our "Shared Wisdom" feature.

The new – and growing – Freelance Market Guide tells AHCJ’s freelancers what assigning editors at specific outlets are looking for from writers. These editors have been kind enough to share the mission of their outlets and set some parameters for pitching ideas.

There is a wealth of information gathered to help you get that next assignment.

Finding the story behind hospital mergers, consolidations

Dan Goldberg

Across the country, health systems are getting larger, gobbling up community hospitals or smaller chains. Some of this has to do with payment incentives in Obamacare, but just as much has to do with changes to Medicare, Medicaid and providers’ desire for leverage as they negotiate payments with insurance companies.

Dan Goldberg recently looked at New York's five large health systems and the strategies they were employing to diversify their revenue base while preparing to play in a post-ACA, value-based world.

In this tip sheet, he shares tips on covering hospital consolidations or mergers, including some key questions to ask and answer in your reporting.

AHCJ members can get data about medical training

In its ongoing effort to shed light on physician residency programs, AHCJ has announced a new benefit for members: Access to national rankings calculated based on 50,000 peer nominations from board-certified physicians, with geographic weighting.

AHCJ has worked with Doximity Inc. to provide members the first comprehensive national research on residency programs. Members can view national rankings calculated based on 50,000 peer nominations from board-certified physicians, with geographic weighting. Individual program data is calculated using a combination of aggregate public sources and Doximity network data.

Tips for covering scientific conferences

Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor

How can journalists make the most of their time and energy when covering a scientific or professional conference?

Mark Taylor recently attended the annual Scientific Meeting of the GSA, which featured more than 500 presentations, symposia and poster sessions. He also has covered other scientific conferences in his two decades as health care journalist, and he shares hard-earned wisdom on successfully covering such massive events. 

His tips include how to prepare before the conference, who to talk to, some key items to bring and how to plan out your coverage.

Six things to remember in reporting on health care costs

health care costsHealth care costs lack transparency and are wildly variable, not just from region to region but sometimes from block to block within the same city.

It is a complex topic, with chargemaster prices, what insurers paid and what consumers pay (if anything). Then there are the administrative rules set by Medicare and Medicaid and the negotiated rates between insurers and providers.

It's daunting, but three reporters have teamed up to offer guidance for reporting on health care costs.

Download CMS data on hospital costs

AHCJ offers federal government data showing what hospitals across the country charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure. The 2011 data includes bills submitted by 3,300 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed treatments. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs.

Reporting on costs requires interview strategy, resources

The cost of medicines, devices, tests and treatment is such an important element of health reporting that it is included in AHCJ's Statement of Principles: "Strive to include information about cost and insurance coverage in any reporting of new ideas in medicine."

To that end, Brenda Goodman and Michael Schroeder have contributed tip sheets to help reporters get that vital information. Goodman focuses on several resources where you might find pricing information, while Schroeder shares his strategy and the specific questions he asks sources about costs.

Association of Health Care Journalists Covering Health: An AHCJ blog

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