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About the AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance

Logo: AHCJ Media Fellowships on Health Performance

Understanding the fellowship

The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance are intended to support U.S.-based applicants who have interesting projects in mind for their news outlets that hold the promise of informing and educating the public. Applicants should have a working knowledge of the topic and a good idea of what it will take to complete the project.

The project could take several forms. The fellow could choose to evaluate a local health system or a specific local or regional program or an aspect of the national system. An approach might be to compare two health care systems addressing a common problem — access to care for poor and uninsured patients, for example — to see why one community is performing better and why. Fellows pursuing projects such as these would want to consider public data and relevant academic studies in addition to interviews with health care and civic leaders, patients and others.

Possible topic areas:

  • Efforts to improve patient safety or quality of care or to extend the health care system into underserved communities

  • The impact of Accountable Care Organizations on patient care and satisfaction

  • How payment structures — shared risk, fee for service, employed clinicians vs. independent contractors — affect health care delivery

  • The effectiveness of new approaches to old diseases or evidence-based medicine

  • Health system redesign, new technology or other innovations to reduce costs and improve the quality of care

Through interviews, site visits, background briefings and use of databases and academic literature, each fellow is expected to produce a package of stories spotlighting a system-related topic, problems and potential improvements. Fellows may focus on specific aspects of the system such as nursing care or pharmacy or payment structures or medical errors, or on the system as a whole. The package can be for a single media platform or multiple platforms.

Expectations

Candidates should be experienced U.S.-based, working journalists who qualify for AHCJ professional membership and have expertise in health reporting. The fellowship is designed to enable fellows to work independently over a one-year period while still maintaining their regular employment. AHCJ fellowship leaders will provide support and guidance through seminars, conference calls and e-mail consultations.

Each employer (or freelancer’s intended outlet) will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation pledging to support the fellow:

  • in participating in the fellowship, including attendance at seminars, a conference and workshop

  • in traveling as needed to complete the project

  • by providing any editorial and technical support required to publish or air the work by December 2015

  • by allowing AHCJ and The Commonwealth Fund to republish or otherwise make available the completed project as an educational tool, with appropriate credit given to the original outlet

  • by including mention of the reporter’s fellowship support in the package or series

What's covered

The fellowship provides:

  • seminar trips, including food, lodging and travel within the United States;

  • a project allowance of up to $4,000 that can be tapped for field reporting trips, data purchases and other approved research expenses;

  • attendance at Health Journalism 2015, including travel, lodging and registration

  • attendance at your choice of one one-day AHCJ regional workshop, including travel, lodging and registration;

  • one year's professional membership in AHCJ;

  • a $2,500 fellowship award for the successful completion of the project.

Anticipated schedule

  • Oct. 1, 2014 - Applications close
  • Oct. 24, 2014 - Winning fellows notified
  • Jan. 2015 - First seminar
  • April 23-26, 2015 - Health Journalism 2015 (Silicon Valley), including second seminar
  • June or Oct. 2015 - Your choice of one one-day regional workshop
  • Sept. 2015 - Third seminar
  • Final project published or aired by Dec. 31, 2015

Application checklist

  • Cover letter introducing yourself, offering a snapshot of your proposed project and explaining why you are seeking fellowship support.

  • A current resume or CV.

  • A two- to three-page project proposal outlining your topic, why you think it’s a good story for your audience, reporting locations, potential sources, and how you would like to shape the final presentation.

  • Work samples, including three in-depth articles, broadcast pieces or packages (preferably on health care topics).

  • A letter of recommendation from your current employer that addresses the benefits of the fellowship to you and the news organization’s audience as well as the employer’s commitment to support the project as detailed in the Expectations section above. Freelance applicants should submit a letter of recommendation from a client or assigning editor willing to provide an outlet for the final project.

Questions?

Training Coordinator Ev Ruch-Graham at the AHCJ office will be happy to assist you. You can contact her at ev@healthjournalism.org or 573-884-8103.

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