In a previous post, I discussed how journalists can use MOOCs — Massive Online Open Courses — to broaden or deepen their knowledge of topics they cover. There also is a lengthy list of MOOCs specific to individual beats available on the AHCJ website.
But those aren’t the only options for gaining more knowledge and skills about topics you cover or want to begin covering. Several governmental and nonprofit agencies as well as medical societies have their own courses available. Several of these are incredibly valuable, depending on what you cover.
I’ve highlighted below some of the best ones I’ve found online, but there are undoubtedly others I’ve missed. If there’s a topic where you feel you need to learn more to report as thoroughly as you want to, or there’s a new area you want to begin reporting on, do a few online searches, and there’s a decent chance you may find a free course that will at least give you an overview.
- Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice from the CDC is actually an online textbook, but it can still act like a self-paced course on epidemiology and biostatistics with its well-organized sections and mini exercises at the end of each page.
- A variety of free SEER Training Modules (including pretests and quizzes) from the National Institute of Cancer are great for beginners through experts if you’re reporting on cancer. Their modules include the following:
- Cancer Registration
- Cancer Registry Operations and Procedures
- Cancer as a Disease
- Cancer and Medical Terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Diagnostic Tests (labs, tumor markers, ultrasound, endoscopies, pathology, etc.)
- Staging a Cancer Case
- Cancer Treatment
- A long list of modules on site-specific cancers (breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma, colorectal cancer, etc.)
- ToxTutor from the National Institutes of Health is a “self-paced tutorial covering key principles of toxicology for users of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) chemical and toxicology databases.” It begins with an introduction to toxicology and include topics such as dose/dose response, testing methods, risk assessment, biotransformation and cellular toxicology.
- Want to bone up on vaccine schedules or specific vaccines? The CDC offers a number of modules on vaccination, again aimed at healthcare providers (hence they have a “follow this recommendation” bent) but nevertheless potentially valuable for reporters who cover vaccines.
- The CDC actually has a lot of online training and continuing education opportunities for public health workers and providers, some of which may hold value for journalists too.
- Risk communication essentials from the World Health Organization is just one of many open, self-paced courses offered by the WHO. A non-exhaustive list of other courses (in several different languages) available from the WHO is below. Keep in mind these courses are aimed at epidemiologists, first responders and other health care workers, so journalists are not their audience. However, journalists can learn a lot by taking or even skimming the courses aimed at providers and public health officials.
- Influenza sentinel surveillance training
- Avian and other zoonotic influenza: Introduction
- Seasonal influenza: Introduction
- Yellow fever: Introduction
- Pandemic influenza: Introduction
- Risk communication for Zika virus disease
- Antimicrobial Stewardship: A competency-based approach
- Meningitis: Introduction
- Cholera: Introduction
- Pandemic and epidemic-prone diseases