Stanford-NBC News fellowship unites journalism and medical students

Joyce Ho, left, works with her reporting team on election night 2011.

Joyce Ho, left, works with her reporting team on election night 2011.

One of my favorite things about Stanford is the diversity of students. Since arriving on The Farm, I’ve taught young women and men from China, Pakistan, South Korea, India, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and England. In addition, thanks to the Stanford-NBC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health, a medical student joins my Public Issues Reporting course and Geri Migielicz’s companion Multimedia Journalism course each Autumn Quarter.

Joyce Ho was the inaugural Fellow in 2011-12, when she was a third-year student in the university’s School of Medicine. Joyce began her fellowship last summer by working in the communications department of the World Health Organization in Geneva. Then, after a sensational quarter with us, she headed to New York for an NBC News internship under the direction of Dr. Nancy Synderman.

I was impressed by how quickly Joyce picked up the nuances of news reporting and writing. As her beat for the Peninsula Press, the website of our Graduate Journalism Program, she covered — no surprise here — health and medicine, reporting on issues ranging from Palo Alto’s efforts to prevent teen suicides to conflicts in federal and local enforcement of medical marijuana laws. She also profiled a half-Samoan/half-Tongan community health worker who bridges cultural gaps at a clinic in East Palo Alto.

In a blog post, Joyce pondered the lessons she learned in journalism and medical school classes. She found more similarities than you might imagine.

“In a way, being a reporter reminds me a lot of being a physician-in-training — both roles require me to go into a room, learn an individual’s story inside out, and present the learned information for a further goal,” she wrote. “In Professor Brenner’s Public Issues Reporting class, the journalism students practiced interviewing techniques not too far off from the interviewing skills I learned through Stanford’s Practice of Medicine course. Both classes emphasized empathy towards the subject. Both courses taught the art of extracting information through carefully worded questions. Similarly, the theme of ‘Keep asking open-ended questions to draw out more information from the subject!’ appeared in both courses.”

Soon we will welcome the 2013-14 Fellow, Hayley Goldbach from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will enter her fourth year of medical school following the fellowship. Our 2012-13 fellow, Kristina Krohn from the University of Minnesota Medical School, was — like Joyce — a delight to have in our journalism classes and a quick study.