Ivan Oransky, who teaches health and medical reporting in NYU’s SHERP program and was an adjunct professor for the CUNY program, in addition to being the executive editor of Reuters Health, said that these programs should court students with focused interests in health and medicine, rather than just a general interest in journalism.
“When you have as challenging and specific a concentration as medicine and health you may do much better if you focus on finding people who are already interested in those subjects and have demonstrated a facility in them,” he said. “In other words, reaching out to other schools like Hunter, in the case of CUNY, or doing what NYU does, which is attracting and creating a program around students who already have some expertise [in some field of science]. Maybe that’s the way forward.”
To that effect, Schwitzer suggested offering introductory courses in health and medical journalism at the undergraduate level, which he says he has done to great and lasting success, but which is incredibly rare in academia.
Whatever the solution may be, one hopes that universities will find it soon. Programs of this sort may disappear, but the need for quality health and medical reporting will not go away.