The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) has announced the selection of its 2012-13 class of Indiana Schweitzer Fellows—14 graduate students, including five IU dental students, who will spend the next year learning to address the social factors that impact health, developing lifelong leadership skills, and living famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer’s message of service.
The IU School of Dentistry congratulates Christine Foulkes and Christopher Tobler, DDS Class of 2013; and Samuel Leggitt, Brian Rochford, and Pragya Sharma, DDS Class of 2014.
Joining approximately 230 other 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellows at 12 program sites throughout the U.S., the newly selected Indiana Schweitzer Fellows represent seven academic disciplines. They will partner with local community-based organizations to develop and implement year-long, mentored service projects that improve the health and well-being of underserved people—all on top of their regular graduate school responsibilities.
“The Schweitzer Fellowship simultaneously promotes Schweitzer’s legacy and addresses a critical gap in today’s healthcare landscape by equipping emerging professionals with the tools to address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health,” says ASF President Lachlan Forrow, MD, director of Ethics and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Earlier this year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that although 85 percent of primary care physicians and pediatricians say their patients have health concerns caused by unmet social factors, only 20 percent of health professionals feel equipped to help their underserved patients actually address those social factors—including low incomes, environmentally unsafe housing, and lack of access to healthy foods, mental health care services, and educational opportunities.
“Established in 1992, our U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program is a two-pronged means of addressing that gap,” Dr. Forrow says. “Fellows deliver immediate impact on the root causes of health inequities by partnering with area community-based organizations to carry out mentored, entrepreneurial, yearlong service projects on issues like early childhood literacy, obesity, and access to health care. But the fellowship’s leadership development programming also helps them to contextualize this experience—delivering lasting impact by developing health professionals with the capacity and cultural competence to address social factors on an ongoing and effective basis throughout their careers.”
Upon completion of their initial year, the 2012-13 Indiana Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life—and join a network of over 2,500 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.
The Indiana Schweitzer Fellows Program was launched in 2011 and is ASF’s newest program location. Four 2012 IUSD graduates – Drs. Kurush Savabi, Jennifer Sitjar, Stephanie So, and Miriam Viernes – served as fellows during Indiana’s inaugural year.
Christine Foulkes and Brian Rochford will team up to provide enhanced structure for faculty and student involvement at the IU Student Outreach Clinic offered through HealthNet People’s Health & Dental Center serving low-income people. They will also work to improve Medicaid utilization and implement a referral process with an educational component.
Samuel Leggitt and Pragya Sharma will work together to facilitate a tobacco cessation program for the IU Student Outreach Clinic.
Christopher Tobler will work to improve the oral health of children attending the Joyce Kilmer Elementary School (Indianapolis Public School #69) by delivering oral healthcare education and improving access to care.
More about the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program is available in this video: "Creating Change, Improving Health."
May 31, 2012