Certificate in Health Impact


Improve health outcomes by using journalism skills to shape a smarter public discussion on health. The Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the U of T Faculty of Medicine are partnering to offer a 12-month Certificate in Health Impact, which you can pursue alongside your other work.   (This pilot program is funded by a grant from the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto. As a pilot, this year’s program will also help us gather research data on how best to teach this material to health professionals and scholars in the future.)

From Oct. 21, 2019 to Sept. 17, 2020 you’ll work as a real reporter, covering your field for Canadian and US media under the mentorship of senior journalists. You’ll also join seminars in investigative journalism, podcasting, clean writing and data journalism or long-form journalism.

Tuition is fully funded by the University of Toronto. (Please scroll down for application directions.)

You can take this program without interrupting your other work; but you’ll need to spend an average of six to seven hours a week on it — mostly outside class and during working hours, because that’s when you’ll be finding and reporting stories.  There are no tests or exams.

Journalism disciplines will help you:

  • Maximize your public impact by exposing important, underreported issues
  • Get editors and politicians excited about nuanced ideas
  • Compete for research funding, as public impact becomes a key granting criterion
  • Meet professional competencies in Public Health and Medicine including: communications, advocacy, leadership, and knowledge translation in scholarship
  • Explore non-traditional careers in your field


The Program – Learning By Doing

The program is built on two pillars:

A 12-month mentored practicum, covering your field for The Toronto Star, Healthy Debate, CBC News and more than 10 other news organizations.

Senior journalists will meet with you twice a month and mentor you continually as you find original stories, pitch them and report them for The Toronto Star, Healthy Debate, CBC News and more than 10 other news organizations. Your mentors will include:

  • Colin Mackenzie, former managing editor of The Globe and Mail,
  • Bernard Simon, former Canadian correspondent for the Financial Times, former correspondent for The New York Times, The Economist, and the US News & World Report. Former joint managing editor of Canada’s Financial Post and former deputy editor of Business Day.
  • Robert Steiner, former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and director of the Dalla Lana Fellowship in Global Journalism at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Four short courses in key journalism skills, which you can attend in person or via live videoconference.


The Schedule

Please click here to see a weekly schedule of all classes and meetings (please note: click on individual classes to see the length of each session).

 1. Oct 21 to Oct. 25, 2019: Boot-Camp

 You’ll start with a five-day, intensive introduction to journalism thinking, during which you’ll learn:

  • How to generate newsworthy ideas and pitch them to editors
  • How to write clearly for people outside your field
  • How to report a story.

We’ll also work as a whole group to pick reporting themes that suit your background and meet the needs of our media partners.

2. Oct 28, 2019 to March 6, 2020: Session One — Written Features

You’ll meet your mentors twice a month. They’ll help you pitch and report written features for our media partners. You’ll also take short seminars in three key skills:

  • Investigative reporting, six sessions from The Toronto Star’s Rob Cribb
  • Clean writing, three sessions from former Financial Times correspondent Bernard Simon
  • Either Data Journalism with David Weisz, or Long-Form Journalism, with The Walrus’ Brett Popplewell

3. March 9 to March 13, 2020 Re-Boot Camp

Another five-day ‘Re-Boot Camp’ to:

  • Refresh core skills.
  • Start learning basic audio skills.
  • Start learning the elements of political advocacy
  • Generate ideas for new reporting packages

4. March 16, 2020 to July 3, 2020: Session Two — Audio Features

Back to pitching and reporting stories under mentorship, but now with a particular focus on producing a radio show and producing podcasts.

5. July 6 – Sept 17, 2020: Session Three — Open Pitching

In the final two months of the program, you’ll pitch your own story ideas to the whole range of our media partners and to other media they wish to target – unbound by any theme, but continuing to work with your mentors.


Requirements For Completion:

In order to complete this certificate successfully, you’ll have to do seven things:

1. Demonstrate consistent attendance at

  • Two one-week boot camps (October 2019 and March 2020), in person
  • Bureau meetings once every two weeks, in person
  • Four short skills courses, in person or by live videoconference.

2. After the first boot camp, complete a short baseline assessment, describing your personal goals for the program and the ways in which you expect to incorporate the material into their future careers.

3. Complete two written stories for the Session One package by the week of February 24, 2020.

4. After Session One, assess your mid-term progress with program staff.

5. Complete two audio stories for the Session Two package by the week of July 6, 2020.

6. Pitch four stories to other partners during the course of the program. Pitches need to have been approved by bureau chiefs before being sent to partners. You should also be ready to execute the pitches as stories if commissioned by our partners.

7. At the end of the program, students will complete a short exit assessment, reflecting insights gained during the year and an actionable plan to integrate the skills they have learned, into their future career.


Join Us For A Video Open-House

Please join Fellowship Director Robert Steiner for a video conference open house – which you can attend from anywhere. We’ll explain how the certificate works and how this unique approach to journalism training can help you shape the public discussion about the most important issues in your field.

We’re hosting video open-houses through August. Please select from the following dates:

We’ll send you a link for the video conference after you register.

Apply Today

We are recruiting a small cohort of students affiliated with:

  • The Dalla Lana School of Public Health (students, faculty, alumni and staff)
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine (senior medical resident, or faculty);
  • Other University of Toronto health faculties.


  • You can (1) devote at least six to eight hours a week from Oct 28, 2019 to March 6 2020, and from March 16 to Sept 17, 2020 – holidays excepted, and (2) attend two five-day intensive boot-camps: Oct 21-25, 2019 and March 9-13, 2020. 
  •  You’re keen to challenge long-held perspectives in your field.
  •  You are self-motivated, resilient and want to be mentored.


To journalism.dlsph@utoronto.ca. Please mark the subject line: “LASTNAME, first initial — Health Impact application”.

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae

2. Official Academic Enrolment and/or Professional Designation. (PDF scan). Official record of your professional designation and / or current enrolment in an academic or professional training program are required for admission. Please either scan or take a screen shot of those documents and attach them to the application.

3. Two Story Proposals. Please identify two important stories in your field that have not received enough media coverage. Pitch each of those stories in a separate 200-word proposal, indicating why the story is important and some evidence for the story you are proposing

4. Personal Essay. Why are you interested in this program, what subject matter do you wish to cover as a reporter during the program, and how do you intend to deploy these skills into your career? (500 words)

5. One reference. Your referee should attest to your knowledge of the subject matter on which you will be reporting during the program, and your ability to meet the requirements of the program successfully in the context of your other professional or academic commitments.  Please have your referees e-mail their letters directly to us at journalism.dlsph@utoronto.ca, using the subject line “candidate’s lastname, candidate’s first initial— health impact reference”


 We will also interview shortlisted candidates before admission