Tag Archives: career development

How do you advise people who want to be health journalists?

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Covering Health needs some help from its readers today. Felice Freyer, a medical writer at The Providence (R.I.) Journal and an AHCJ board member, is looking for advice to give people who want to go into health journalism.

Felice Freyer

Felice Freyer

Surely many of you have found yourselves in her position; so what is your advice? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below and we may feature the suggestions in an upcoming tip sheet. So here’s Freyer’s dilemma:

Every now and then, I hear from a young person who wants advice on how to start a career as a health journalist, and I’m never able to help. It’s embarrassing. Though I’ve been at this for a frightfully long time, I went the usual newspaper route of covering cops and zoning boards until the medical writer’s job opened up (thanks, Irene!). I don’t know if that’s even an option today.

But in any case, that route wouldn’t appeal to these people who come to me with rarefied credentials (such as one who contacted me recently, with a degree in public health and experience covering health issues in Third World countries). They are often clueless about today’s journalism world, but then, I realize, so am I.

What’s out there for beginners? Where would you advise someone to start looking? It is necessary to start as a freelancer or blogger, or are there actual jobs?

Update: We’re curious – how did you get into health journalism?