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AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Fellowship: Quotes from past fellows

This was a great opportunity to learn more about my beat, to meet other journalists who share my passion for covering health, and to build skills that I need to stay competitive in this business. It’s not an easy time to be a journalist, and this fellowship is a big part of what’s kept me going for the past year. So thank you!

— Brie Zeltner, The Plain Dealer

The fellowship has had a profound effect on my reporting. I can trace its impact on dozens of stories I’ve written since the first seminar. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t use something I learned. It’s also encouraged me to expand and look into other coverage areas that I hadn’t reported on before, mostly because I wasn’t familiar with them and didn’t know where to turn to get a better understanding.

— Sean Kirkby, Wisconsin Health News

The whole program gave me a sense of confidence. Coming almost brand-new to the health care beat is an overwhelming rush of confusing information. The fellowship allowed me to take time to see things clearly and with an evidence base

— Anne Saker, The Cincinnati Enquirer

It was a tremendous experience. Having the opportunity to explore the stories, data and trends that are coming out of the region where I work and live has opened my eyes to the richness of stories and resources. It also was invaluable in looking at the national stories I do in new and layered ways.

— Andrea King Collier, independent journalist, Lansing, Mich.

I cannot praise this fellowship program highly enough. I would recommend this fellowship to anyone interested in improving their health reporting skills.

— Karen Bouffard, The Detroit News

If anything, the fellowship exceeded my expectations. It infused me with an excitement for the work that I get to do on a daily basis and helped me identify some areas where I can stretch myself in the coming year. I definitely feel professionally enriched because of it.

— Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star

The fellowship provides high-level instruction on a variety of health care topics, from hospital finance to the Affordable Care Act, rural health, nursing homes, infectious disease, and public health. Unlike other health journalism training courses, this one excels in offering hands-on learning.

— Carrie Feibel, Houston Public Radio

Being new to the health beat without a dedicated health-specific editor — and with no other health reporters in my newsroom — I was in dire need of subject matter training and resources. This fellowship gave me needed background, resources and access to experts who know their subject matters best. Now, I feel more confident that I at least know where to turn when I have questions.

— Rebecca Catalanello, and The Times-Picayune

One of the most useful aspects of the fellowship was the resources I will be able to turn to for future stories, especially when on a tough deadline.

— Shannon Muchmore, Tulsa World

Networking and the availability of veteran health reporters who willingly guide you has always been a big plus with AHCJ. Since I’ve joined the organization, I’ve gained some mentors who give good career advice. In this fellowship, seeing what the other fellows were doing helped me to think differently about my approach to stories. It also allowed us to share experiences and encourage each other.

— Coshandra Dillard, Tyler Morning Telegraph

The equivalent of a low-residency master’s program, with one important distinction: The lessons were applicable immediately. This program informed my health reporting from day one.

— Pat Duggan, KING-Seattle

I continue to be amazed at the usefulness of the program, the thoroughness of topics explored, the quality of the people both in this group and in support of it.

— Cynthia H. Craft, The Sacramento Bee

The fellowship provided an excellent mix of speakers, field trips, expertise and information about health and health care. The strong camaraderie formed with other fellows was also a pleasant surprise and one of the best things about the fellowship. It’s easily one of the best fellowships I’ve done and I’ve done several in my career

— Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazette-Journal

Even an experienced journalist can gain valuable experience from this program. Whether it’s getting new ideas about what to look for in a hospital inspection report or learning the inner-workings of the CDC, there’s something for any health journalist who wants to improve the sophistication of their coverage. I would highly recommend this program to any reporter or news organization that wants to raise the bar on its health coverage.

— Ken Alltucker, The Arizona Republic

Excellent program. I entered this fellowship new to the health beat. The program gave me the tools to deliver the stories that really matter to my readers. Also, I was able to make valuable contacts with colleagues.

— Saerom Yoo, Statesman Journal

AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Program: SoutheastWhen I looked at the year’s schedule, I was skeptical. How could all this translate to my daily work back in the newsroom? But the opportunities to focus on policy, research, finances and even epidemiology transformed my writing. I have a foundational understanding of health journalism and its standards that couldn’t be developed in any other way. The shared experience with other journalists, I believe, is the ‘X’ factor that made it deeper and more meaningful than I expected.

— Mary Shedden, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune

This fellowship went beyond my expectations. I worried about applying because of the days away from work involved, but the workshops dovetailed with both breaking health news and enterprise projects. My contact list of sources is much richer. I can also interpret medical studies and work in spread sheets with greater confidence because of the training I received.

— Tom Wilemon, The (Nashville) Tennesseean

At a time when newsroom training budgets are minimal at best, particularly for specialty beats, the Regional Health Journalism Fellowships was a wonderful opportunity to step back from daily deadlines and consider better ways to report on health and medicine. AHCJ offered its usual top-notch quality of speakers and resources, and the interaction with other journalists was invaluable. Our presenters were respectful of the modern realities of newsroom life, and always encouraging.

— Charlotte Sutton, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times

Great events with inspiring and enlightening speakers. As far as what I expected when I applied for the fellowship, it hit the middle of the dart board for me and my health care reporting. It gave me tools, tips, story ideas, sources and a front-row seat to some of the most cutting-edge facilities and people working in health care today.

— Toby Sells, The (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal

Excellent program. I entered this fellowship new to the health beat. The program gave me the tools to deliver the stories that really matter to my readers. Also, I was able to make valuable contacts with colleagues.

— Skyler Swisher, The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal

AHCJ Regional Health Journalism ProgramThe Regional Health Fellowship was far and away the best continuing-education experience of my rather lengthy journalism career. It was first rate in terms of discovering sources and resources learning about health-care issues, learning from top journalists in the field, and learning from my colleagues in the fellowship.

— John Lundy, Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune

This fellowship opportunity came just as I was moving into a new beat covering the business of health care, and my learning curve was put on an instant fast track. The program gave me access to experts who could explain how things work (and become future sources) and journalists who showed us how they broke important stories.

— Jackie Crosby, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 

This was a great year. I met great peers from across the Midwest. I got valuable background on complex health issues directly from some of the best experts in their fields. I feel like I have a grounding in health as a reporting topic that I certainly didn’t have coming in.

— Grant Gerlock, NET Radio, Lincoln, Neb.

The fellowship was spectacular. It not only provided me with endless story ideas and sources, but renewed my enthusiasm for my passion.

— Lynn Taylor Rick, Rapid City (S.D.) Journal