Health & Medicine Welcomes 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health & Medicine Welcomes 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows

June 7, 2018

Thirty exceptional health professions graduate students have been selected for the prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship – a year-long service learning program that empowers Fellows to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.

Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages students to become lifelong leaders in service by helping to address unmet health needs among vulnerable Chicagoland residents. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each Schweitzer Fellow will launch a community-based project, providing 200 hours of service. Using a broad public health lens, the new Fellows will work to improve community wellbeing and target the social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that have a profound impact on health and quality of life. Projects include:

•    Establishing a holistic wellness and life-skills program for homeless youth to encourage academic achievement
•    Supporting the health of uninsured/underinsured Hispanic patients with type 2 diabetes
•    Initiating a psychoeducation program for Chinese immigrant caregivers of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
•    Click here to learn more about the Fellows and their service projects

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, the Fellowship exposes students to real-world inter-professional, collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service. The 2018-19 Fellows include students from 10 area universities and 20 academic programs, ranging from nursing to disability studies and public health. The exceptional class of Fellows was selected from a pool of almost 100 applicants through a competitive process.

“I was inspired to apply for the Schweitzer Fellowship by its dedication to social justice,” shared Fellow Amanda Dobron, a student of East Asian Medicine at the Pacifica College of Oriental Medicine. “As a service learning Fellowship, they go beyond asking applicants to develop a project for an underserved community and instead give Fellows tremendous support in developing and implementing those projects.”

In addition to their service projects, Dobron and her peers in the Fellows will also participate in a thirteen-month Program that includes monthly meetings, trainings, and ongoing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration as well as support from a team of mentors from their schools and project sites as well as mentors from our alumni network and the Schweitzer Fellowship Advisory Council which oversees the program.

“The Schweitzer Fellows Program serves a very important purpose that benefits both Fellows and underserved communities. The Chicago Program has done an excellent job in promoting the Fellowship and supporting Fellows throughout their program to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful,” said recent Faculty Mentor Elizabeth Aquino, PhD, RN, of DePaul University School of Nursing. “The best part of the mentoring experiencing is seeing the Fellows’ project ideas come to reality and the impact they have made within the community,” she added.

The new Fellows join a network of over 600 Chicago Program alumni who have provided over 120,000 hours of community service to more than 150 community groups over the course of the Program’s twenty plus year history.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship was an instrumental part of my medical school experience—both the work I did in the community, but possibly more importantly the relationships I formed with students from other disciplines and other schools. I am glad to continue to support the Fellowship as a member of the Advisory Council and to welcome this new cohort of Fellows to the Schweitzer community,” said Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, MD. In addition to serving on the Schweitzer Advisory Council, Dr. Salisbury-Afshar is an alumna of the Fellowship as well as a board member at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, the non-profit health policy center that administers the Chicago Fellowship.

“In the face of ongoing uncertainty in our health care system and increased threats to our most marginalized citizens, the role of our Schweitzer Fellows as ambassadors of hope is more important than ever,” said Margie Schaps, Executive Director of Health & Medicine. “This sort of community impact is only possible through the steadfast commitment of the many individuals, academic institutions, and local foundations that support this program including the Baxter International Foundation, the Michael Reese Health Trust, and the VNA Foundation. We are deeply grateful for their generosity as we welcome this dynamic group of Fellows to the Schweitzer community.”