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About the AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance

Logo: AHCJ Media Fellowships on Health Performance

Understanding the fellowship

The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance are intended to support U.S.-based applicants who have interesting projects in mind for their news outlets that hold the promise of informing and educating the public. Applicants should have a working knowledge of the topic and a good idea of what it will take to complete the project.

Though not an exclusive requirement of your project proposal, this year’s review committee remains interested in projects focused on health equity. This might include racial disparities within a community, gaps in public health inclusion, unstable housing, insurance access, food insecurity, violence as a health issue, how health care institutions or systems are applying a racial equity lens to their policies and practices or otherwise addressing inequities or disparities, or other examinations of systemic problems that became so apparent over the past year.

The project could take several forms. The fellow could choose to evaluate a local health system or a specific local or regional program or an aspect of the national system. An approach might be to compare two health care systems addressing a common problem — access to care for poor and uninsured patients, for example — to see why one neighborhood, city or state is performing better and why. Fellows pursuing projects such as these would want to consider public data and relevant academic studies in addition to interviews with health care and civic leaders, patients and others.

Possible topic areas:

  • How public agencies or health care systems are applying a racial equity lens to their policies and practices

  • What COVID-19 revealed about weaknesses in health crisis preparations and how those lessons are being acted on, including reducing inequities in the community

  • Responses to how COVID-19 affected other health issues, such as mental health, substance use, screening, vaccinations and other prevention, or care of chronic conditions

  • How insurance reimbursement of and patient and provider attitudes toward virtual visits will influence telemedicine long after the pandemic has passed

  • How the pandemic influenced relationships between health care institutions and public health agencies

  • What providers and systems learned about influencing health behaviors during the pandemic (masks, distancing, isolation) that can be applied to other health threats, such as smoking, drinking, diet or exercise

  • Efforts to improve patient safety or quality of care or to extend the health care system into underserved communities

Through interviews, site visits, background briefings and use of databases and academic literature, each fellow is expected to produce a package of stories spotlighting a system-related topic, problems and potential improvements. Fellows may focus on specific aspects of the system such as nursing care or pharmacy or payment structures or medical errors, or on the system as a whole. The package can be for a single media platform or multiple platforms.

Click on the names of past individual fellows to review the variety of topics others have covered.

Expectations

Candidates should be experienced U.S.-based, working journalists who qualify for AHCJ professional membership and have expertise in health reporting. The fellowship is designed to enable fellows to work independently during a calendar year while still maintaining their regular employment. AHCJ fellowship leaders will provide support and guidance through seminars, conference calls and e-mail consultations.

Each employer (or freelancer’s intended outlet) will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation pledging to support the fellow:

  • in participating in the fellowship, including attendance at seminars, a conference and workshop

  • in traveling as needed to complete the project

  • by providing adequate time for the fellow to report and write the project

  • by providing any editorial and technical support required to publish or air the work by Dec. 31, 2022

  • by allowing AHCJ and The Commonwealth Fund to republish or otherwise make available the completed project as an educational tool, with appropriate credit given to the original outlet

  • by including mention of the reporter’s fellowship support in the package or series

What's covered

The fellowship provides:

  • seminar trips, including food, lodging and travel within the United States;

  • a project allowance of up to $4,000 that can be tapped for field reporting trips, data purchases and other approved research expenses;

  • attendance at the AHCJ annual conference, including travel, lodging and registration

  • attendance at your choice of a one-day AHCJ regional workshop, including travel, lodging and registration;

  • one year's professional membership in AHCJ;

  • a $2,500 fellowship award for the successful completion of the project before the end of the year.

Anticipated schedule

Seminar #1 – New York City or virtual meeting
Mid to late January: Speakers and discuss projects

Seminar #2 and conference
April 27: full day workshop at AHCJ’s annual conference in Austin, Texas

April 28-May1: AHCJ Health Journalism 2022 in Austin

*Conference dates are tentative and subject to change based on local and national Covid-19 regulations and considerations

Seminar #3, New York City
Fall: Date to be determined

Regional Workshop
Summer or Fall of 2022. Dates to be determined

Application checklist

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

  • A current resume or CV.

  • 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.

  • A work sample from one story published or aired during the past 12 months.

  • A two- to three-page project proposal outlining your topic, why you think it’s a good story for your audience, reporting locations, potential sources, and how you would like to shape the final presentation.

The application deadline is Nov. 10 at 5:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 a.m. CT, 2:00 p.m. PT

 

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