Reynolds Weekly: Friday, February 22, 2019

by February 26, 2019

Robotic surgeries, free medical school classes, and another retail company closing: here’s how to cover them on the business beat.

Robotic Surgery Firm Acquired by Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson announced that they would buy Auris Health, Inc., a robotic surgery company for $3.4 billion. With this deal, Johnson & Johnson will give the company an early intervention “lung-cancer diagnostic and treatment tool,” as well as additional “milestone” payments. This also adds to their robotic surgery technology and development company.

How to start your reporting:

Miniaturized tools that include a camera slip through small incisions, allowing surgeons to follow along and get a better view of the area’s needs, according to the New York University’s robotic surgery page.

Medical companies are beginning to look at robotic surgery and new medical technology in order to make the process less invasive and smoother, such as with a decreased need for recovery time.

Have any local people in your area have had robotic surgery? Does insurance cover it? Is it more expensive than traditional surgery?

Payless Shoes’s Stores to Close

Payless ShoeSource is closing all of its remaining North American stores and halting online business, according to The New York Times. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with $500 to $1 million in debt. Liquidation sales will begin, with stores remaining open until March or May of this year.

The company first filed for bankruptcy in April 2017 and closed down hundreds of stores since then. However, it’s been struggling to keep up with online shopping disruptors and keeping up with fashion trends, as well as the decreased mall traffic.

How to start your reporting:

Payless isn’t the only one closing its doors this year. The number of over 1,500 retailers include JCPenny, Nordstorm, Kohl’s, and KMart, and this trend is expected to continue, according to an analysis by Business Insider.

Businesses such as Toys ‘R’ Us are getting hit in the wake of online shopping. Check out some of our articles about e-commerce’s disruption, including how companies are catering to Gen Zs.

On a more local level, where do most people buy their shoes? What will replace the Payless stores in your area? Where would the employees — both part-time or full-time — go? Did they sense this was coming?

Kaiser Permanente’s New Medical School: First Five for Free

Kaiser Permanente announced on Tuesday that it would waive tuition for the full four years of school for its first five classes,” according to a press release.

The New York Times reports that Kaiser Permanente will use their revenue from “community benefits” and promises “generous” financial aid for its students when the five classes are up, as well as internships and hands-on learning.

The California-based healthcare company is opening its own medical school this year in the city of Pasadena, with its classes starting in the summer of 2020. It will begin accepting applications this June.

This tuition-free trend follows in the footsteps of New York University’s School of Medicine, which announced last year that it would cover tuition for all of its students.

How to start your reporting:

Kaiser Permanente, as well as New York University’s School of Medicine, will not comp room and board. How are the rent and leasing prices in these areas? What do both residents and incoming students do — rent rooms or apartments, go on AirBnB, etc.?  

What are the costs of applying to medical school in the first place? (i.e. mailing transcripts, application fees, MCAT prep and taking the test, etc.) And once they’re there, how do students in your area afford medical school? What are the fees and requirements? How many medical students graduate with debt?

Also consider looking into the often-unpaid or under-paid internships, apprenticeships, and lab hours many students must accumulate either before or during the process. What are the financial burdens, especially with low-income students?  

And the biggest question of all graduating students: How long does it take to find a job?