The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Sixteen graduate students from Alabama State University, Auburn University, Samford University, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama School of Law, and the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham 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 inaugural class of Schweitzer Fellows. There was great interest in the program, and we are excited to see what our talented students accomplish over the next 12 months,” said Kristin Boggs, Director of the Alabama chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “We are confident that the Alabama Schweitzer program will make a lasting impact on the health of communities in and around Birmingham, Alabama as our Fellows first learn to serve and support vulnerable people in living healthier lives, and then take those skills with them when 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 Alabama Schweitzer program’s inaugural class of Fellows will address an array of health issues affecting a range of populations, from a health promotion program for at-risk youth that employs reading and bicycling to an oral health promotion program for Hispanic and Latin adults to addressing food insecurity among low-income residents of Birmingham.
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.
“We are so pleased to bring The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship to Alabama. Our program 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 16 Alabama Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2016-17 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 2016-17 Alabama 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.
In Alabama, Dr. Stefan Kertesz Chairs the Alabama Schweitzer Fellows Program. He is an ASF Fellow for Life and leads research and education on how to improve the care of people who are homeless. 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 new 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: Meredith Dixon, MD, who is a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer; Nahid Bhadelia, MD, director of infection control at Boston’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory and a hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center; and William Fischer II, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at University of North Carolina Health Care and UNC School of Medicine.
The Alabama Schweitzer program is housed in the School of Medicine, in partnership with The University of Alabama at Birmingham Schools of Dentistry, Health Professions, Nursing, and Public Health. The Alabama chapter is ASF’s 14th U.S.-based program. The others are in Boston; Chicago; Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New Hampshire/Vermont; North Carolina; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Tulsa. Additionally, ASF also has a program chapter based in Lambaréné, Gabon, at The Albert Schweitzer Hospital.
2016-17 Alabama Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Alabama State University
Kelly McMurray, Alabama State University, College of Health Sciences (Prosthetics & Orthotics)
Kelly has partnered with a local prosthetic and orthotic clinic to hold monthly meetings with patients on health and wellness topics.
Community Site: River Region Prosthetics & Orthotics Clinic, TBD
Ayanda Chakawa, Auburn University, College of Liberal Arts (Clinical psychology)
Ayanda has partnered with eight faith-based communities to work with African American parents of children aged 5-12 years old to strengthen child well-being. This project is also being supported by the Auburn University Office of Faculty Engagement through the Auburn University Competitive Outreach Scholarship Grant.
Community Site: Macon County Ministers’ Council
Samford University, School of Pharmacy
Caitlyn Cleghorn, Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy and Dustin Whitaker, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine
Caitlyn and Dustin will implement a medication review system for St. Vincent’s Access to Care clinic that includes health education for patients and a comprehensive clinical review of each patient’s medications.
Community Site: St. Vincent’s Birmingham, Access to Care
Alfonso Robinson Jr. and Hope Bentley, Tuskegee University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing & Allied Health (Occupational Therapy)
Alfonso and Hope will establish a project that encourages healthy behavior and promotes health education among K-12 students through the combination of reading and bicycle riding.
Community Site: Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven
University of Alabama, School of Law
Frances Isbell, University of Alabama, School of Law
Frances will open a chapter of NMD United in the state of Alabama and create a support network for teens and adults with neuromuscular conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Frances will also organize pro bono legal clinics, aimed at helping that population access the resources they need to live independently.
Community Site: NMD United and others (TBD)
UAB School of Dentistry
Aissatou Barry-Blocker, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Dentistry
Aissatou Barry-Blocker will teach simple steps in personal nutrition that can improve the oral health, and potentially reduce heart disease and diabetes, in the Hispanic and Latin communities. The nutrition education sessions will coincide with the regularly scheduled health screenings Cahaba Valley Health Care (CVHC) conducts in the target Hispanic and Latin communities.
Community Site: Cahaba Valley Health Care
UAB School of Medicine
Sushma Boppana, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)
Sushma will develop and implement a patient navigator program for Equal Access Birmingham (EAB), UAB Medical School’s student run free clinic for homeless, uninsured, and under-insured individuals. This project aims to improve patients’ utilization of existing community resources and increase EAB’s rates of successful referrals.
Community Site: Equal Access Birmingham
Shima Dowla, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)
Shima will develop, implement, and evaluate a healthy living program for low-income adults with diabetes and obesity who receive care at Equal Access Birmingham. This program will employ strategies from the Health Behavior theory of public health with the goal of improving participants’ diet, physical activity, and medication adherence.
Community Site: Equal Access Birmingham
David Osula, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine
David is developing the Academy of Health Sciences Mentoring Program for local, inner-city high school students who are interested in healthcare careers.
Community Site: Carver High School, Academy of Health Sciences
Taylor Pope, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine
Taylor will work with students at Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center to improve their health and self-esteem through dance.
Community Site: Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center
Sarah Teitell, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine
Sarah will increase access to healthcare for runaway and/or homeless youth at Project HOPE. She will create a health screening assessment and local healthcare resource guide, and also assist with connecting these youth with the appropriate local free/low-cost community health agencies.
Community Site: Family Connection, Inc. (Project HOPE)
Dustin Whitaker, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine and Caitlyn Cleghorn, Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy
Dustin and Caitlyn will implement a medication review system for St. Vincent’s Access to Care clinic that includes health education for patients and a comprehensive clinical review of each patient’s medications.
Community Site: St. Vincent’s Access to Care
UAB School of Nursing
Deborah Bowers, UAB School of Nursing
Deborah will plan and establish a nurse practitioner-led, volunteer safety-net clinic in the community of East Lake in Birmingham, Alabama. An interdisciplinary team, consisting of a nurse practitioner, physician, pharmacist, business owner, and minister, will work alongside community leaders to provide access to healthcare for this medically-underserved population.
Community Site: East Lake Initiative
UAB School of Public Health
Ashley (A.T.) Helix, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health (Health Behavior)
Ashley will develop materials and provide an on-call volunteer for the friends/family members of someone who will be hospitalized for a mental health condition. The materials and volunteer will help them understand what their loved one will be experiencing while hospitalized; how they can help while their loved one is in the hospital; and how to be a support system when their loved one is released. The project will also establish a phone line that people could call if they were contemplating going to the hospital, but were nervous about the process or how it would actually help.
Community Site: Birmingham Crisis Center
Rachel Stokes, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health (Environmental Health Sciences)
Rachel will address food insecurity in Birmingham by developing aquaponics and community gardens that will increase the availability of fresh produce year-round for partners and constituents of Christian Service Mission.
Community Site: Christian Service Mission