About the AHCJ International Health Study Fellowships

Understanding the fellowship

The AHCJ International Health Study Fellowships are intended to support highly-experienced journalists who have projects in mind to compare a segment, process or program of the American health care system to that of another country’s system. For 2020, the focus will be on developed European countries in comparison with the United States’ health care system.

The project could take several forms. The project could evaluate a key component of the health care system, a health outcome, access, performance, providers, efficiency or other focal point. The applicant would want to consider public data, academic studies, and conversations with stakeholders and the public.

Possible topic areas might include access to health care providers, hospitalization, care for a chronic disease, life expectancy, maternal health, infant mortality, care coordination, use of resources or one of many other slices of the system worth evaluating.

Through interviews and site visits as well as using other tools such as databases, academic literature and background briefings, each fellow will produce a story or package of stories in any media platform or several media platforms spotlighting this slice of the U.S. system and comparing it to that of another country.


Candidates should be experienced working journalists who qualify for AHCJ professional membership, with at least 10 years’ experience as professional journalists, preferably with strong experience covering health care policy and delivery at the national or regional level.

Along with choosing working journalists who propose compelling project ideas, we pay special attention to these attributes:

  • The project proposal is unique.

  • The project proposal holds promise for educating the public.

  • The prospective fellow has a background or long track record that shows a capability of tackling the proposed project.

  • The applicant is capable of completing the proposed project by the end of fellowship period.

  • The applicant’s employer (or freelancer’s intended outlet) will nominate the candidate and agree to support his/her efforts in completing the project by the end of the fellowship period.

  • Any employer agrees to provide AHCJ and The Commonwealth Fund with nonexclusive rights to reprint or make available the completed project through their websites, with appropriate credit given to the original outlet. If the fellow is a freelancer, a letter is expected from a client or assigning editor willing to provide an outlet for the final project.

  • The prospective fellow and employer agree to provide a credit line or other notation mentioning the work was done under the fellowship program.

Fellowship schedule

Jan. 15-17, 2020 seminar: The first seminar – to be held in New York – will include how to find and examine reliable international health statistics, what a high-performing health care system looks like, judging access, quality and efficiency. This also presents an opportunity to begin focusing on the fellows’ chosen nations and gives fellows a head-start on understanding what they will find in their travels, as well as pointing them to informative sources in those countries. The seminar also allows fellows to hone story focus with input from journalist program leaders and other fellows.

Post-seminar preparation: Following the first seminar, fellows will return home for four to six weeks of trip preparation. This includes lining up interviews and site visits in the country of their choice, as well as some preliminary reporting in the United States so they have a firm grasp on what they want to compare.

Overseas travel: The overseas travel will take place during the same time period for all fellows. The March 7-24 trip allows for 13 non-travel days in their study countries, three days in London for the second seminar and three travel days.

Time in the study country is to be spent conducting pre-arranged interviews, visiting clinical sites and health agencies, interviewing locals for color, observing the chosen health system in action, and writing up notes.

Second seminar: Travel back from Europe will direct all fellows through London, where the reporters will meet as a group for a debriefing seminar March 21-23.

European health system experts will be asked to present to round out the immersion -experience and to answer any lingering questions the fellows may have. Also, the fellowship mentor will guide the fellows through a review of what they found on the reporting trips and discuss writing timelines.

Publication/Airing: The fellows are expected to publish or air their reports – whether individual story or larger project – within 90 days of the trip.

What's covered?

  • Training and mentoring expense.

  • Travel to and lodging in New York for Seminar 1 and a meal/incidental expenses stipend.

  • Travel to European country agreed upon with fellowship leaders, lodging in that country, reasonable transit focused on reporting within that country and a meal/incidental expenses stipend for the entire period.

  • Travel to and lodging in London for Seminar 2 and a meal/incidental expenses stipend.

  • A year’s membership in AHCJ, new or extended. 

Application checklist

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

  2. A current resume or CV.

  3. 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, including scheduling sufficient time for you to pursue the project. Freelance applicants should submit a letter of recommendation from a client or assigning editor willing to provide an outlet for the final project.

  4. A work sample of one health policy story published or aired during the past 12 months.

  5. A two- to three-page project proposal outlining the topic you want to explore, why you think it’s a question worth asking and why it’s a good story for your audience, anticipated reporting location, potential sources, and how you would like to shape the final presentation.

The application deadline is noon CT on Oct. 7, 2019.

Click here to apply.

Questions? Contact Susan Cunningham at susan@healthjournalism.org or 573-882-2203.