FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to lead the project on my own or can I partner with another student?
It’s up to you. If you partner with another student, you both have to fulfill all the program requirements and participate in all of the fellowship activities. However, you will split the $3,000 stipend and the 200 hours of service.
When do I have to complete my 200 hours of service?
You can complete your 200 hours of service at any time from April 1 to March 31. Some Fellows start their hours during the summer, some don’t start until autumn. Some Fellows complete all of their hours in a couple of months and some spread them out over the entire year. It is up to you and what your project entails. We do encourage spreading the hours as much as possible to have enough time to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks or delays.
What exactly do you mean by an “underserved” population? How do I know which community to work with?
"Underserved" is open to interpretation, but for the majority of Fellows, it has meant the uninsured, especially people who are poor or near poor, minorities and immigrants (including undocumented immigrants), the disabled, and seniors living on fixed incomes. Any group of people that you can conceive of who has difficulty receiving quality health care and other needs that impact their health and well-being could be considered underserved.
What exactly do you mean by “direct service”?
“Direct Service” means you are working directly with a community. You are interacting in some way with your target population. Examples include providing health information workshops, leading a fitness class, tutoring, providing screening exams at a health fair, or linking residents to needed health services. Research, fundraising and policy based projects are not considered eligible. You are allotted 50 hours of administrative time for project planning and the remainder 150 hours should be spent on direct service activities.
What health topic should I address?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Consideration will be given but is not limited to projects in the following areas: access to primary care, diabetes, mental health, substance abuse, and prevention.
Is the orientation retreat really mandatory? What if I already have obligations for that weekend?
Yes, the orientation is a firm requirement. If you already know you cannot make it, please do not apply for the Fellowship. The orientation is one of the most critical components of the Fellowship.
I’m not in medical or nursing school but I do have an interest in tying my field in to improving the health and well-being of communities. Am I still eligible?
Yes, this is an interdisciplinary program and we are looking for applicants from any field in which the Fellow can create a health-related community project. Other fields of study have included dentistry, law, divinity, psychology, pharmacy, and more. We think expansively about health and realize that there are so many factors that contribute to the health and well-being of our communities.
Does each new Fellow have to develop a new project, or can a Fellow continue a project that had been started by another Fellow in a previous Fellowship year?
As this is a leadership development opportunity, you may not simply duplicate an existing initiative. Fellows can either start a new project or build upon an already established project initiated by a previous Fellow or a community agency. Expansion could include reaching out to a new target population or adding additional services that will be offered. A listing of previous Fellows’ projects and sites is available on the website. In addition, there is also a listing of agencies which have demonstrated needs in the community and have agreed to host a Schweitzer Fellow. However, you are not limited to either listing. You may connect with any community agency which has a demonstrated need you wish to fulfill. Please contact us for potential agencies in other geographic locations not included on the website.
I have never really done something like this before. Does that lower my chances for getting the Fellowship?
We view the Fellowship experience as an important opportunity for learning, whether someone has already done a lot of community work or very little. Experience is not a requirement for the Fellowship, but in your personal statement we’d like for you to explain how your background and skills have helped prepare you to do community outreach work, and what motivates you to make such a serious commitment. The Program’s mentors and Program staff provide ample support to Fellows so that everyone who is passionate about providing service to improve health can do so.
I have an internship requirement for my school. Can I use the Schweitzer Fellowship to help fulfill this requirement?
No, we do not allow Fellows use their Schweitzer project for credit within their curriculum. The Fellowship is really meant to be an added component to your educational experience that enables you to develop your abilities as a leader in service. The Fellowship is an opportunity to complete a community service project and to become part of a community of Fellows who are dedicated to similar work and hold similar values. Although it may take a lot of time to participate in both the Fellowship and your school internship or practicum, it is a very enriching and rewarding experience to be part of the Fellowship separate from your academic requirements. It’s your opportunity to follow your passion.