Mayo partnership brings medical students to journalism school

Journalism students will be making room for medical students next fall as the Cronkite and Mayo Medical schools kick of a new dual degree program.

Just a few months ago, Mayo Medical School contacted the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication interested in starting a degree program for its medical students to learn journalism.

Mayo Medical School students from Rochester, Minnesota, will come to ASU after their second year of medical school to fulfill a dual master’s degree. They will be completing a mass communications degree.

The students will complete a condensed version of the master’s program at the journalism school, completing a normally 15-month program in 12 months. Students will be taking introductory reporting courses and journalism boot camp, which teaches them to write on deadline.

Dean Christopher Callahan, dean of the journalism school said he is excited about the two Valley institutions coming together and the skills the students will learn.

“They can communicate their own research, I think, much more effectively and write their own articles,” Callahan said. “It’s popular now that you have doctors who are correspondents on national television.”

The degree program at Cronkite is just one of five dual degree programs that ASU offers Mayo medical students. Other degree programs with ASU are medical-law degrees, medical-bio engineering and medical-MBA at W. P. Carey School of Business and medical-bio informatics.

Sheila Collins, chairwoman of the division of education administration in Arizona for the Mayo Clinic, helps facilitate between ASU and the Mayo Clinic.

“[ASU President Michael] Crow and Dean [Keith] Lindor of the Mayo Clinic School believe that physicians of the 21st century will be better physicians if they have a legal background … or journalism skills,” Collins said.

Once students become doctors, the journalism degree will help in writing medical procedures or health-related stories in print, Internet or television said Collins.

After students complete their year at ASU, they will go back to Rochester to finish their third and fourth years of medical school.

“Think of it like a year off, but it’s not a year off. It’s a year off from medical school,” Callahan said.

Mayo medical students will apply at ASU like any other student. They will be living in the dorms with other ASU students in the Taylor Place in Downtown.

With the new Mayo-Cronkite degree program, students will be studying under Edward Sylvester, professor of journalism and director of the medical journalism studies at the Cronkite school. Sylvester has written many medical books and has spent days with doctors behind the doors of medical centers.

“It’s a great example of the radical changes going on in our ideas of who is doing journalism and of how we all report the news. But what makes good journalism and what makes good medicine haven’t changed when you get below the surface,” Sylvester said in an e-mail.

Sylvester will be mentoring students through their capstone projects at the Cronkite school.

“I’ve probably fielded four or five phone calls the first week from medical students who are really interested in this,” Callahan said. “My guess is that we’ll have a couple of these Mayo fellows each year.”

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