Nursing Alumna Uses Journalism Career to Share Health Information

APRIL 1, 2014 - Georgetown nursing alumna Ali Gorman (NHS’97), MS, RN, is well known in the Philadelphia area.

The former Navy nurse turned broadcast journalist currently reports on health and medicine for 6abc Action News, which serves the city and surrounding communities.

Gorman, who went on to complete a master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, says her current career feels like an extension of her work as a nurse.

“My favorite part of being a nurse was talking to patients and families and teaching them things they can do to manage an illness at home or to just take better care of themselves or their family,” she says.  “I am doing the same in my nightly reports just with a bigger audience.”

Learning Experience

After Georgetown, Gorman practiced as a full-time nurse for five years, four of which she spent as a Nurse Corps Officer in the U.S. Navy.

“When I got out of the Navy, I wanted to pursue a new challenge,” she says.  “I always liked the television news health reports, and I was looking for something that gave me the opportunity to be a bit more creative.”

Her first on-air reporting position was in Lansing, Mich.  She then worked in Jacksonville, Fla., before moving to Philadelphia.

“I now work for the station I grew up watching,” says the southern New Jersey native.  “Like any business, I had to pay my dues, but I loved it. … Along with health stories, I also covered general news to get experience – stories that involved crime, fire, and natural disaster.  It was an incredible learning experience.”

Useful Background

Gorman says her experience as a nurse helps as she shares health information with the public.

“My background as a nurse also helps me understand medical information quickly,” she says.  “My journalism education taught me to take large amounts of information, figure out what is most important, and put it into a format everyone can understand.”

One of her most fulfilling stories, she says, combined her clinical and journalism skills.

“A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to Haiti on a medical mission,” she says.  “I took care of patients while also reporting from the clinic.  For me, it was the best of both worlds.”

‘Value of Empathy’

She also notes that her education at Georgetown continues to play an important role and that her professors stressed the importance of “clear and kind” communication.

“They also taught the value of empathy,” she says.  “Both are huge assets to have when reporting on health topics, which can be very personal.   In order to do my job well, people have to feel comfortable opening up to me and sharing their personal struggles.  I can then tell their story so others may learn from it.”

She says that she loved her time at Georgetown and would “go back and relive all the memories again if I could.”

To current students, she advises, “Find your passion and chase it, no matter how long it takes.  It might be working with kids or seniors or it could be in health promotion or policy.   An education in nursing from Georgetown opens so many doors.  There are so many avenues you can explore.  And when you love what you do, you and everyone around you will be happy.”

By Bill Cessato