One fellow each year is selected for the program, which teaches physicians-in-training to leverage the media in order to advocate and inform on global health issues
Gina Yu expected her first day interning at CNN would be fairly relaxed — meeting colleagues, being shown around the office, setting up email passwords — akin to starting a new job in any big organization.
It didn’t turn out that way.
“I got a quick welcome and was casually asked if I happened to know anything about coronaviruses,” said the UMMS medical student. “Then, my manager announced that Washington had the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus. My first assignment was to try figure out which hospital this patient was at to see if we could get an interview.”
January 21, 2020, the day the first U.S. case of what would come to be known as COVID-19 was publicly disclosed, coincided with Yu’s arrival at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Her three-month internship was the cornerstone of a year-long Global Health Media Fellowship run through Stanford University. One fellow each year is selected for the program, which teaches physicians-in-training to leverage the media in order to advocate and inform on global health issues.
Participants spend the fall semester taking master’s level journalism classes at Stanford before moving to Atlanta to work with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others at the CNN Health team.
Yu, a fourth-year medical student from Saline, Mich. was the first-ever UMMS participant in the program, and 2020 was a particularly fateful year to be involved; the coronavirus pandemic was a confluence of every aspect of the fellowship, a global public health crisis that became the year-long focus of a media maelstrom.