Featured left to right: Jeannette Moninger, Michael Morton, Denise Schipani, Liesl Shipani and Joelle Klein


Five Aha Media team members attended this year’s Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Cleveland. During four days in early April, we met with other health writers and editors from across the country, while learning from leading clinicians, researchers and other health experts.

Learning directly from patients

During a session on oncology care for teens and young adults, Dr. Peter Anderson of the Cleveland Clinic cited a common question he hears from families: What can we do to help? While his particular answer is involvement with diet and nutrition, it’s a query that seems widely applicable to our content writing.

We were also struck by this message from a patient, provided by John Novack of Inspire: “Individuals with chronic illness fight to be recognized and have their limitations acknowledged and supported, but it doesn’t mean that we are in some way sad or unable to live a full life.” It’s a good reminder to always strive for an empathetic tone and approach.

Visits at local healthcare institutions

Some members of our team received the chance to visit the Cleveland Clinic, as well as the equally impressive University Hospitals Health System, MetroHealth System and Case Western Reserve University medical school. These field trips showcased a virtual reality system for brain surgery prep, compact-yet-powerful proton therapy and a lab for creating new cellular therapies, among other advancements.

Our team later learned about national initiatives from two keynote speakers: Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy and Dr. David J. Shulkin, head of the Veterans Health Administration.

For the bulk of the conference, our team faced the challenge of deciding which workshops and talks to attend, with dozens of fascinating options. Topics included:

  • Reviewing innovations in cancer care, including targeted therapy, immunotherapy and tumor genomics
  • Learning more about the promise and challenges of stem cells and regenerative medicine to cure disease and repair tissue
  • Understanding how biomarkers and high-tech scans can help providers detect, and possibly prevent, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • Determining how smartphones could revolutionize healthcare, particularly by making video consultations and remote vitals tracking possible
  • Reading and comprehending medical studies
  • Developing compelling ways to present useful health information and making stories come alive for audiences

All told, more than 600 people attended the conference, the 17th annual for the association. Our team members included project managers, Denise Schipani and Liesl Wiederkehr, senior content writers, Michael Morton and Jeannette Moninger, and new hire Joelle Klein. See more about us.

For our Aha Media team, the conference provided a chance not only to learn about the latest advances in medicine, but also to recharge for the year ahead and to reflect on our work and our readers.


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