The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its 2016-2017 class of Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellows. Fifteen graduate students will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.
“We are extremely proud of our incoming class of Schweitzer Fellows, and we are excited to see what our talented and committed students accomplish over the next 12 months,” said Karen A. Spiller, Director of the Boston chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Our program is making a lasting impact on the health of communities in and around Boston as our Fellows first learn to serve, be responsive to and support vulnerable people in living healthier lives, and then embrace and take those skills with them as they establish themselves professionally as leaders in their field.”
Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. The Boston program’s 2016-2017 Fellows will address an array of health, wellness, and awareness issues and initiatives. These include projects aimed at improving the health of adolescents in the Mission Hill and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston and in Charlestown; addressing disparities in cervical cancer screening rates among lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men; and assisting older Chinese adults struggling with depression.
Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component, so that Fellows can go on to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.
“The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has a ripple effect in communities as Schweitzer Fellows improve the lives not only of those they are directly serving, but their circle of family and friends as well. So there is a lasting community impact,” said Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, Executive Director of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Additionally, the process of moving their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to completion teaches Schweitzer Fellows valuable skills in working with others in allied fields. As Schweitzer Fellows develop professionally, this skill is critical to their ability to effect larger-scale change among vulnerable populations.”
The Boston Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2016-2017 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2016-2017 Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,200 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.
Nationally, some of ASF’s Fellows for Life include Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the recent bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, and who writes regularly about education and parenting issues for the New York Times and The Atlantic; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist. Additionally, three Schweitzer Fellows for Life were among those who deployed to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak: William Fischer II, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at University of North Carolina Health Care and UNC School of Medicine; Meredith Dixon, MD, who is a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer; and Nahid Bhadelia, MD, director of infection control at Boston’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory and a hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center.
There are 14 U.S.-based Schweitzer programs. The others are in Alabama; Chicago; Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Los Angeles; New Hampshire/Vermont; New Orleans; North Carolina; Pittsburgh; San Francisco Bay Area; and Tulsa. Additionally, ASF also has a program chapter based in Lambaréné, Gabon, at The Albert Schweitzer Hospital.
2016-17 Albert Schweitzer Fellows Boston Chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Brabson is addressing dementia prevention and therapy for elders living in Boston communities by developing a dementia-focused group therapy program. She will be working with participants in Upham’s Elder Service Plan who are over age 55 and living in the community. Activities will focus on improving or maintaining cognitive functions, dementia prevention strategies, mental and physical exercises, and social support. Stronger cognitive functions reduce safety risks and fall concerns, which leads to greater independence and the ability to safely live in their homes. Providing elders with in-home support is much more cost effective than living in a nursing home; therefore, Brabson hopes this program will have widespread implications.
Community Site: Upham’s Elder Service Plan, Roxbury (Boston)
Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Capezio is addressing the absence of oral health literacy in pregnant mothers of the surrounding Boston community by implementing a curriculum expansion to include oral health within an existent program at Boston Medical Center. He will be training staff and leading private counseling sessions on the importance of oral hygiene tailored to the questions afflicting the 900 expectant mothers within the program. By targeting mothers during the formative period of pregnancy, Nick hopes to elevate the discussion of oral health to educate and benefit current and future generations on the importance of oral care and the common missteps that occur.
Community Site: The Centering Pregnancy Program at Boston Medical Center, Boston
The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
DeAndrade is addressing the health impact of exposure to community violence in Dorchester by developing a small-group workshop series that empowers adolescents to recognize the kinds of stress that violence exposure can cause and develop skills to better manage that stress. The curriculum for this workshop series is informed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles and will be tailored to the needs of the students who are participating. These small group sessions will take place during the school day for 6th-graders and aims to improve their school functioning and mental well-being, recognizing that exposure to violence is often an impediment to achieving full academic potential.
Community Site: The Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, Dorchester (Boston)
Harvard University Medical School
Berrahou is addressing disparities in cervical cancer screening rates for transgender men, lesbians, and bisexual women by creating a sustainable media campaign to increase education and awareness. The campaign will consist of powerful stories from community members describing both positive and negative experiences with cervical cancer screening, as well as interviews with practitioners sensitive to the needs of LBT people. Ultimately, the project will aim to improve patients’ and practitioners’ comfort surrounding cervical cancer screening for the LBT community and to empower LBT people to become advocates within their community and for themselves in seeking health care.
Community Site: Boston Alliance for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Youth, Boston
Harvard University, T.H. Chan School of Public Health
(Borna) Nazmim Bhuiya
Bhuiya is addressing adolescent health in Mission Hill, Roxbury by utilizing sports and intergenerational mentoring as tools to promote healthy bodies and minds. Youth will participate in weekly team-based sports activities that focus on developing skills to improve their social and emotional well-being, and they will also establish supportive relationships with older adults during youth engagement in community-based projects. The program aims to empower youth by enhancing their self-esteem, building leadership skills, and setting personal development goals.
Community Site: Tobin Community Center, Roxbury (Boston)
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Stephanie Campbell, Doctor of Occupational Therapy program
Campbell is addressing healthcare management and communication skills among at- risk students. The project will empower adolescents as partners in their healthcare and self-advocates as they transition into adult care services. It will also create a framework for teaching health literacy and communication skills that can be incorporated into the curriculum of the existing school-based programs.
Community Site: MGH School Based Health Center – Chelsea High School, Chelsea
Valerie Rucker, Doctor of Physical Therapy program
Rucker is addressing health, wellness, and fitness of children who attend the Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown by implementing a weekly dance program. This exercise/physical activity program seeks to engage the youth by highlighting dances that represent different cultures throughout the world, as well as note different dynamics of choreography. At the end of the program, participants will have the opportunity to showcase their original choreography. The goals of this program are to increase physical activity levels of youth, expose participants to different forms of dance and movement, and encourage individualism, leadership, and self-expression, and creativity, thereby addressing both the physical and psychosocial components of health.
Community Site: Boys and Girls Club, Charlestown (Boston)
Esther Jarvis, Masters of Science in Nursing program
Jarvis is addressing the mental health needs of Boston’s Chinese community by establishing a mind body program for patients with depression. The program will include Tai Chi, meditation, and psychoeducation. The goal is to develop a model that can be easily replicable and scalable to other community settings such as nursing homes and senior centers. Currently, major challenges exist in promoting mental wellbeing in the Asian community due to stigma and shame, immigration and assimilation stress, and cultural and language barriers. Ultimately, this project aims to help bridge the different understandings and approaches to mental illness between providers and patients in the community while also increasing access to mental health services.
Community Site: South Cove Community Health Center, Chinatown (Boston)
Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Doctor of Medicine
Bilski is addressing social isolation among low-income seniors in the South End of Boston by creating an enrichment program for residents of a Boston Housing Authority subsidized housing site. This program will provide organized activities for residents struggling with social isolation to encourage socialization, eliminate cultural and language barriers, and cultivate a community with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life.
Community Site: Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, Jamaica Plain (Boston)
Geldwert is working to design, implement and evaluate a shared medical visit model for those seeking treatment for substance use in the greater Lynn community through a partnership at Lynn Community Health Center. With a demand for treatment that far exceeds available services, creative community-based solutions are urgently needed to address care for those with substance use disorders. Beyond expanding treatment availability, this project will collaborate with patients to improve retention and satisfaction.
Community Site: Lynn Community Health Center, Lynn
Wetterhahn is addressing barriers to maternal and infant health in Roxbury by establishing a prenatal group and home visiting program with La Alianza Hispana. The program will provide peer support, essential pre- and postnatal education, and assistance accessing maternal health and ancillary services and resources. These include MassHealth’s free breast pump, WIC benefits, a bilingual phone application with due-date specific information, assistance with housing applications, and connections to accessible off-site health care for undocumented participants. Ultimately, this partnership aims to establish an effective and sustainable means of providing Boston’s Latina population with culturally and linguistically appropriate comprehensive prenatal support.
Community Site: La Alianza Hispana, Roxbury (Boston)
Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Jacobs is addressing the physical, mental and social well-being of aging adults through the creation of a garden club. This project utilizes a raised bed garden as a therapeutic and nurturing tool for improving resident health as well as preserving dignity and respect. Garden Club members will be involved in as many aspects of planning, planting, maintenance, and harvesting of vegetables and herbs as possible. The project will also focus on sharing of gardening and cooking knowledge and traditions through the preparation of monthly meals using garden and a community speaker series.
Community Site: Springhouse Senior Living Community, Jamaica Plain (Boston)
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Myung is addressing the lack of minority representation within the healthcare career fields by establishing a college prep program for high school students in the Suffolk county area of Boston. The goal of the program is to provide guidance in the college admission process while introducing the high school students in underprivileged areas to careers in the health sciences through mentorship and various activities that will foster personal and professional development.
Community site: Tremont Temple Baptist Church, Boston
University of Massachusetts Boston, Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies program
Tariana V. Little
Little is addressing the social determinants of health among urban youth. Racial and ethnic minority youth often experience life adversities, including neighborhood deprivation, high rates of teen pregnancy, and high school dropouts. To further promote positive youth development, Little will collaborate with Chica Project, a Latina-centered, an intergenerational, Latina-centered, youth mentoring program in Massachusetts, in launching their Empowerment Institute, a new program focused on recruiting and training college-enrolled young women of color to be mentors to high school girls. By providing youth and young adults with relationships supporting opportunities to thrive, this project strives to enhance the wellness and leadership capacity of youth of color.
Community Site: Chica Project, Boston
University of Massachusetts School of Medicine
O’Neil is working to address the needs of individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities seeking social security disability benefits. Specifically, she will: (1) serve as a liaison between the treating physicians and attorneys; (2) represent clients at hearings; (3) develop a self-sustaining medical student rotation at the site; and (4) create a course/resource book for self-directed medical student learning about the basic concepts of social security disability benefits, the need to conform physician support letters to the Social Security Administration standards, and the process of distilling physician notes/charts to meet those standards.
Community Site: Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston