Rarely am I intimated by my sources, but I was a little nervous before interviewing Dr. Robert Cook for the website of the University of Florida’s College of Public Health and Health Professions. His resume was quite impressive and I had to sit down and intelligently discuss his research about STDs and sexual behavior without getting confused or uncomfortable.
Our interview was at the Emerging Pathogen’s Institute, a cool building with huge white boards wrapped around the walls and a security guard in the lobby who gave me a visitor’s badge and made me wait an escort.
The interview went well. My thorough preparations helped things go smoothly. I even heard the magic words I long to hear from my sources: “Now that’s a good question.”
The story recently reran in the Health Science Center’s newsletter, The POST. You can read it online here.
Maybe it’s because I grew up watching medical-themed shows with my parents, maybe it’s because I really enjoyed biology in high school, or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, but I love reading about health and medicine.
Below are three books I’ve enjoyed so far this summer and definitely recommend. They’re easy, interesting reading that don’t require a medical degree to appreciate.
Ask Me Why I Hurt by Randy Christensen, M.D.
A brand new copy of this book happened to be on display when I walked into my local library so I decided to check it out. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Christensen is a pediatrician at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital who started a mobile medical unit that serves homeless youth. The book follows Christensen’s personal and professional life during the first 10 years of the Crews’n Healthmobile service in the Phoenix area. What makes the book is the haunting stories of the teens that Christensen helps: children who were abandoned and abused and now trying to survive in the dessert. To learn more about the book, Christensen and his mission, check out askmewhyihurt.com.
Better by Atul Gawande, M.D., MPH
Why I told my friend Michelle about Ask Me Why I Hurt, she lent me Gawande’s first two books. Gawande is an associate professor at Harvard, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a writer for the New Yorker magazine. When I read his work, I get really jealous: This guy can perform surgery/save lives AND write well? It’s just not fair.
Each chapter looks at something different, from the importance of hand washing to how to eradicate a disease. The most interesting chapters covered topics people don’t always talk about, such as: Who are the medical professionals who participate in the death penalty (and how exactly does it work)? How much should doctors really be paid?
Complications by Atul Gawande, M.D., MPH
Honestly, I’m still reading Complications. I find myself preferring Better, I think because I’m not as interested in gory surgical details as I am in general public health issues. However, this book still soars with Gawande’s exquisite carefully written, carefully researched prose. What’s really great about Complications is Gawande’s honesty in sharing his own experiences as a surgeon, even when they aren’t the most flattering. During residency and internships, new doctors have to practice on live patients and sometimes things don’t go right, but I’ll let you read about it for yourself.
Gawande recently released a third book, The Checklist Manifesto. You can bet that I’ll be tracking down a copy of it soon.
If you have a book recommendation, please let me know! I’m always looking for something new to read.
The beat I am most interested in covering is health. Partly out of nerdy curiosity, partly out of concern that one of my family members might I have dementia, I attended a memory disorders panel this morning. The event included presentations by Alzheimer’s support organizations, a physician, researchers and a brief appearance by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, whose mother had Alzheimer’s.
I was tapping away on my phone when my mom leaned over and asked, “What are you doing?” “Tweeting,” I told her. We were sitting in the back so I thought I would take the opportunity to practice live tweeting. I was never trained on how to do it, so I just carefully listened for key facts or interesting tidbits that I could successfully condense to 140 characters.
By the end, I had sent out nine tweets from my Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Captivate. Thankfully, my touch-screen phone allowed me to type almost silently. If I had been using a keypad then I would have been really noisy.
My advice to others hoping to live-tweet a quiet event like a panel, academic presentation, or featured speaker is to make sure their phone/equipment is quiet and be prepared to multitask. Sometimes the speaker would move on to a new point while I was still trying to get my thought formulated for the character limit. Also, find an event where you can practice without the pressure of an editor, deadlines or journalistic obligation.
I was worried how my actions might be perceived, but because we ended up with seats in the back, the speakers couldn’t see me and neither could most of the audience members. Any advice on how to achieve live tweeting without looking like a distracted, disinterested, rude audience member?
A semester’s worth of work and my magazine management group has a beautiful, glossy, 32-page magazine prototype to show for it. Of the three prototypes created in our class, my group’s was chosen as the winner and will be sent on to compete in the 2011 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Student Magazine Contest.
We knew almost immediately that we wanted to create a health and fitness magazine targeted at college students because of the empty space in the market, but it took forever to decide on the name “Health Junkie.” It’s become my dream to actually launch this magazine someday (if you know any potential investors, let me know!)
So much time went into this project including weekly two-hour meetings, research, writing, photo shoots, and days of laying out the pages in the lab. I was made art director because I had the most experience with InDesign (thank you, high school newspaper experience!). Thankfully our copy editor had taken one design class so she could get the pages started by placing text and stuff then I’d come in and clean it up. I also was in charge of the two photo shoots, one for the cover and one for the food spread.
This experience only confirmed my goal to work in magazine editorial. I really enjoyed planning out the departments, features and stories. So much thought went into what would be perfect for college students in our August back-to-school issue that focused not only on physical health by mental and financial health. We were also required to determine how we would market our publication and brand our company. Our accompanying business plan topped out at 17 pages which one of the judges said was more detailed and thought-out than plans he’d seen for real companies.
I am proud, excited and anxious to send our publication off to AEJMC. I only wish that our professor Linda Hallam could have lived to see our finished product. She passed away on March 29. Our publications were presented to her husband last week at a memorial service hosted by the journalism school.
Several years into my father’s journey down the narrowing road of Alzheimer’s, when he was still going out for walks, I looped my arm through his one afternoon and walked with him along a leafy street near my parents’ home. A few people recognized him, waved and called out, “Hello, Mr. President” and “God bless you.” He smiled and waved back. Then he looked at me, confused, and asked, “Do I know them?”
No, Dad, I said. “They recognized you and wanted to say hello.” He looked even more perplexed. “But how do they know me?”
At 5:21 p.m. Thursday, I finished my internship triathlon!
Since January I’ve worked for three different publications in Gainesville improving my skills as an editor, writer and overall professional. It’s been a crazy year but I have lots of beautiful clips and wonderful connections to show for it. Each internship brought new experiences and learning opportunities.
My last internship was with the University of Florida’s Health Science News and Communications office where I mostly wrote profiles and event stories related to the health care schools. The semester has been a wonderful introduction into science and medicine writing. I use to think I wanted to be a political writer but I think I like this beat best. There’s always new discoveries and advances to write about and people are always going to want to learn how they’re going to be impacted as a patient.
It’s strange to think that I won’t have another internship before I graduate in April. HSC offered to keep me on for another semester, but my spring journalism courses - magazine management and the online capstone - will keep me too occupied to work for a publication. While I look forward to creating a publication and improving my multimedia skills in 2011, right not I look forward to a few deadline- and assignment-free weeks to recover.
How do you write a story that’s about healthy food, holiday food and local food? I’ll tell you, it was actually one of my more difficult pieces I wrote for Gainesville Magazine this summer and I had to ask my editors a lot of questions to make sure I was going in the right direction.
Here’s to a Homegrown Holiday ran in the October/November Health issue so we wanted the recipes featured to be healthy. Because it’s right before the holidays, it was a good time to include holiday food. The local angle was added because it’s a huge trend globally and in our town. We’re Gainesville Magazine, why not tell our readers food they can eat that was produced in Gainesville?
For this story, I often felt more like wrangler than a writer. First I had to find the two farmers who would be willing to submit recipes (our third contributer was our normal food writer). I had to make sure they understood the guidelines and keep on them about deadlines. When they sent their recipes, I had select the best ones and then edit them not only for style but for clarity. I also had to set up the three photoshoots.
This was my first time editing recipes and it was harder than I had imagined it would be. Journalists always have to scrutinize their work to make sure the reader can understand it. With food stories it’s even more important when the reader will be following directions and it’s even more difficult because their not even your directions. There were many phone calls and e-mails exchanged with the cooks to get these recipes ready for print.
I have to admit that I still haven’t made any of these recipes yet.
The stories I wrote as intern this summer at Gainesville Magazine are still being published. This one, The A to Z of Fitness, From Aquatics to Zuma, Gainesville offers a world of choices ran in the October/November health issue.
Editor Jacki Levine had the idea that we cover one fitness opportunity in town from A to Z. And “we” meant “me.” The more experienced writers covered the more medicinal and scientific aspects of the health issue. I was hesitant when I received the assignment but it turned out to be one of my favorite clips.
How did I find all these exercises? Hundreds of Internet searches. Whenever I had downtime between other stories I worked on my running list. Sometimes I browsed fitness centers websites to see if they had interesting programs I could use. Other times I looked prowled the Internet for “exercises or sports that start with the letter__” and then checked to see if it was offered somewhere in Gainesville.
Then came the fact-checking phone calls because I knew better than to trust the websites. Some people wanted me to include more information about their services than I could allow. One personal trainer tried to give me a free trial session (I said no, for the record.).
So for all that work, I have something useful and interesting to show for it. My editors who have lived in Gainesville for decades and have been working in health publications for longer even learned something from my story. I am grateful to the photo and design staff for making the it look amazing (I had to put in a few photo requests for this one).
Today I started my internship with Gainesville Magazine!
It is my second of three internships in 2010. April 23 was my last day as an editorial intern at INsite Magazine and when classes start in August I will be an intern with the UF Health Sciences and Communications Center.
Some of my friends raise their eyebrows at my marathon year, but each internship provides me with different opportunities to grow professionally.
At INsite, even though it was small publication, I learned about the day-to-day, behind-the-scenes workings that go into making a magazine. I learned editing skills with rough drafts and proofs, as well as editor skills like coordinating writers and photographers. It was also a practice in marketing a publication through social media because I wrote a lot of tweets (which is a skill on its own, let me tell you).
During the next three months at Gainesville Magazine, I will write stories and hopefully make a few videos. Instead of being the editor in the office, I get be the reporter in the field (and the writer in the office). Coincidently, my magazine writing instructor used to work at G Mag (I even get her old desk) so I should be well prepared but I’m a little nervous because I’m afraid I’m out of practice.
In the fall, I will be writing about the medical, veterinary, dental, pharmacy and nursing schools and other institutes. It’s a little bit public relations-esque because it’s creating internal and external publications promoting the research and programs at UF and connecting with alumni and media. However, I am excited for the opportunity to write about health and science. Not only does it really interest me, but there seems to be a market for those kinds of writers. It’s the only one of my internships that pay if that’s a sign of anything.
My deepest hope is that three local internships will culminate into an internship at a national publication where I can use and build on what I have learned.
Of course, I have to finish these existing internships first.