Inside Stanford Medicine


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Many of you have already seen this, but for those who haven’t, I wanted to share an article written about the Stanford-NBC News Global Health Media Fellowship that was published in Inside Stanford Medicine a few weeks ago. The article, written by Ruthann Richter, highlights some of my fellowship activities and also the reason Dr. Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health, created the fellowship.

Dr. Barry is quoted as saying, “I would like to see younger people going into careers in global health learn to do this effectively. As journalism downsizes, we need to learn these skills. There will be fewer people to tell our story effectively.”

Applications will be opening soon for next year’s fellowship.


Original article:

Learning to write, tweet and broadcast the global health story


Medical student Joyce Ho is spending the year developing the skills to communicate global health issues to a variety of audiences.

Joyce Ho came to Stanford to study medicine, but this year she finds herself navigating the worlds of network news, social media, daily journalism and documentary photography.

As the first Stanford-NBC News Global Health Media Fellow, Ho is acquiring media skills that are increasingly seen as an important part of the tool kit for doctors working in the field. The fellowship, the first of its kind in the United States, trains physicians in the global health arena in using a variety of methods to communicate effectively with lay audiences and to advocate for change, said Michele Barry, MD, professor of medicine and director of the School of Medicine’s Center for Innovation in Global Health.

“I think in order to be effective change agents and advocates for global health, we need to tell a story quite persuasively and we need to learn to do that through various forms of media, whether it’s TV, social media or investigative journalism,” said Barry, who initiated the fellowship. “I believe this is a skill set anybody going into a career in global health should have.”

Ho, who began her fellowship in June while taking a year off from medical school, has worked in the communications office of the World Health Organization in Geneva, and will spend time this winter behind the scenes at NBC News in New York. In addition, she’ll work with Palo Alto-based Ning, the online social media group. She is also taking journalism classes at Stanford.

“I think the media is a very powerful and often overlooked tool that can be used to promote global health,” said Ho, a third-year medical student who has done volunteer work in Ghana and India. “It can be especially helpful in global health because the issues seem so foreign and difficult to relate to. My hope is to make people as passionate as I am about the issues, and to talk to them in ways they can understand.”

Ho, who was selected for the fellowship after a national competition, developed an interest in global health after volunteering in Ghana with the nonprofit Unite For Sight while a Stanford undergraduate. She spent a month with the program, founded by a Stanford medical student, in which she did eye-care screening for impoverished residents in the village of Tamale. She came back feeling energized and eager to share her experience, but could not find a suitable media outlet. So she started the Stanford Service in Global Health Journal, a biannual publication in which faculty and students share stories and the knowledge they gained during their global health experiences.

“In the media, it’s often how you tell your story,” she said. “People are dying, they’re not getting the medications they need and they’re not getting access to health care. And it’s difficult to relate to because you have no concept of what it’s like. My hope is to connect people suffering from health disparities to those who have the resources to effect change in the health-care arena, so the latter group can understand the important issues and learn how to help.”

During her recent, six-week stint at the WHO, Ho prepared press materials, participated in biweekly press briefings from every major U.N. agency in Geneva, learned more about social media, took part in workshops on how to turn complex medical jargon into easy-to-understand language for people of all backgrounds and mingled with other global health advocates in the organization’s vast, multicultural environment.

Now back at Stanford, she is taking classes in news reporting and social media in the Graduate Program in Journalism, as well as participating in a seminar that introduces students to prominent journalists at major news organizations. She is also working at Ning, learning how individuals in the medical field can use social-networking platforms to enhance user experiences. Throughout the year, she has been blogging about her work, and one of her posts about the value of social media in medicine was featured on, an influential medical blog.

Ho will soon be heading to New York to spend six months with NBC’s Nancy Snyderman, MD, the network’s chief medical correspondent, where she will have unprecedented access to the behind-the-scenes decision-making on what stories are selected and what global crises get coverage.

“This fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for a physician interested in global health to understand the powerful impact that the media yields in effecting change,” said Paul Costello, chief communications officer for the School of Medicine. “I don’t think you can underestimate the media’s impact in shaping global public opinion. What a unique opportunity to see how global health issues and the media play out in real time.”

Barry said she hopes to build on Ho’s experience to create a model project that could be emulated by other universities. She also hopes to be able to expand the Stanford program to two fellows next year, if funding permits, so that more students of global health may benefit from the experience.

“I would like to see younger people going into careers in global health learn to do this effectively,” she said. “As journalism downsizes, we need to learn these skills. There will be fewer people to tell our story effectively.”

This year’s fellowship is sponsored by the Open Society Foundation, NBC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To follow Ho’s blog, go to: Or follow her on Twitter at:

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1 Comment on Inside Stanford Medicine

  1. ms
    January 9, 2017 at 6:22 am (1 year ago)

    This post isn’t getting all that much traction (sort of like global health at large…), but the work is very important. I want to thank you for doing it and sharing the story!


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