ABC News Medical Unit Elective

ABC plaque outside the entrance

ABC News plaque

I am spending the next three weeks at ABC News Medical Unit for my residency elective, and I’m getting all sorts of flashbacks from my time at NBC! (Side note: whoa, just skimmed through my post describing what I did at NBC; that feels like AGES ago!) The main difference of course is that now I’m actually an MD instead of a second year medical student. I find that having the few extra years of clinical experience really makes a difference in how I approach and answer common questions in medical journalism.

The main gist of my day is spent reading embargoed studies that haven’t been released yet to the general public and determining with my producer whether or not it is interesting or important enough to go on the news. Things we look for are how timely the piece is, how robust the study is and the conclusions the study authors are claiming, and how much people will care about the topic. It reminds me a bit of extended journal club since I’m reading and critiquing studies everyday. We are also writing pitches for interesting stories or studies and I have a story that I’m working on related to dermatology that I hope will get picked up. I am working with a team of other rotating residents as well as a fellow currently doing the Stanford-ABC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health (the one I did back in 2011-2012 as the inaugural fellow!). Many of you have asked me how I got involved in the ABC News Medical Unit program, and this rotation is actually open to all medical residents; you just need to have elective time and fill out the application! It’s fun to have a group of doctors vetting studies and occasionally we get to accompany the medical correspondent, Dr. Richard Besser, when he goes to film. (Sidenote: he has had a really impressive career in academia and at the CDC. If you’re interested you can read more on his ABC News bio above). Tomorrow we are going with him to watch him film Good Morning America in Times Square!

I think what I’ve been realizing so far is that the media has such huge potential to affect thousands, even millions, of people, and by knowing how to tell the story right, we can really make strides in public health efforts. You guys all know that I’m a huge fan of social media and I think it’s very interesting to see how all the different social media platforms play more and more of a role in traditional journalism. Already through Instagram and this blog I feel like I’ve been able to share my thoughts about skincare, whether it’s acne and rosacea to skincare routines, and also talk about my experiences going through medical school, the application process into residency, and life as a resident. I find it very interesting how people search for and process health information in this digital age.

I’ll keep updating and sharing about my experiences as more unfolds. I’m only on Day 2 so I’m still pretty early on in my elective!

5 Comments on ABC News Medical Unit Elective

  1. Shara A
    April 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm (9 months ago)

    Hi Joyce, not sure if you’ll see this, but I thought I’d try anyway. How do you apply for the ABC news medical unit resident rotation? I’ll be doing a transitional year before anesthesia residency starting in July, and I would love to do something like this during my elective months! The only thing is, I can’t seem to find a proper application online. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Also, I love your blog!

    • Joyce
      April 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi Shara, why don’t you email me at and I’ll forward your interest to the medical editor. Thanks for your comments about the blog!

      • Shara A
        April 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm (9 months ago)

        Emailed! Thanks so much!!!

  2. Monisha Shah
    April 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi Joyce, I’m Monisha, a second year pediatric resident who recently heard about the rotation and would love to do it as a part of my third year elective time! Cam you provide some guidance on the application process and likewise? All help will be highly appreciated!

    • Joyce
      April 17, 2017 at 3:13 pm (8 months ago)

      Hi Monisha, here is the link to the application. You have to fill out all the fields and the medical editor Dan Childs will be in touch shortly. Good luck!


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