The Association of Health Care Journalists has announced a “no-expiration policy” during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Memberships that would normally have expired between February and June will be kept active, said AHCJ Executive Director Len Bruzzese.
“Many of our members are on the front lines of this health crisis and their expertise is being called upon during some extra-long days and nights,” Bruzzese said.
Each year, members in AHCJ’s professional category elect members for the association board of directors. Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms. Incumbent board members are allowed to run for re-election.
Service on the board is a serious commitment. It has commensurate rewards (but no pay). In addition to participating in two in-person board meetings each year and occasional conference calls, board members are responsible for making decisions about association policies and statements, as well as working with the executive director on training projects, financial matters and other efforts to achieve AHCJ’s strategic goals.
Board members take on committee duties and contribute to association activities, including fundraising, advocacy, helping plan sessions at training events, membership outreach and writing/editing contributions. They may be asked to play a role in other association projects that arise.
Read more about serving on AHCJ’s board and how to declare your candidacy. If running for the board isn’t for you, here are some other ways to get involved with the association.
The board of the Association of Health Care Journalists has amended the organization’s membership guidelines, completing a process first begun in early 2010. The adjustments are an effort to make membership rules more consistent and ensure AHCJ is first and foremost an organization of and for journalists.
The changes will have no effect on most current members, says board member Phil Galewitz, chair of the Membership Committee. Journalists working for publications of health companies or health advocacy organizations, however, will be shifted into the associate member category, if they are not already there, he said.
While AHCJ has long required that journalists from these organizations’ publications work independently of lobbying and public relations staffers, it has been increasingly difficult to judge their independence based on employer. This will allow them to continue taking advantage of most member benefits, including the electronic discussion list and website resources, but will exclude them from running for board positions or voting for board members.
Read more about the changes and review AHCJ’s membership categories. Learn more about AHCJ membership.
The National Association of Medical Communicators, an organization for medical broadcasters, writers, organizational spokespersons and health professionals who communicate with the public on a regular basis, has disbanded.
In a blog post about the decision, Barbara Ficarra, who was an NAMC board member and is a member of AHCJ, cites cutbacks from pharmaceutical sponsors and changes in the broadcast world. Ficarra, who says “I couldn’t walk away with trying to find a home for [NAMC’s] members,” has suggested that people involved with NAMC consider joining AHCJ.
“We’re all sorry to hear about NAMC’s difficult decision to disband,” said Charles Ornstein, AHCJ’s president. “For those NAMC members who write or broadcast health news and still seek the camaraderie of a professional home, AHCJ is a terrific hub for networking, learning, sharing and friendship. We have broadcast members from throughout the country and are always looking to offer additional opportunities in this area.”
Ornstein encouraged journalists to check out AHCJ’s membership categories.
Under AHCJ’s new membership guidelines approved earlier this year, some, but not all, NAMC members could qualify for professional or associate membership. At the same time, the guidelines reinforce the prohibition on people who do public relations work or pitch stories to journalists.