2017-18 Class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows Named

Susan Ryan-Vollmar

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its 2017-18 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Sixteen graduate students from Samford University, Tuskegee University, University of Montevallo, and the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and the Collat School of Business 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.


2017-18 Alabama Albert Schweitzer Fellows - Public Health

Catherine Jones, University of Alabama School of Public Health (Epidemiology)
Jones is addressing needs of senior citizens by establishing arts and crafts and art therapy programs for permanent and temporary residents of rehabilitation and retirement facilities within the local community. The goal is to lead life enhancing activities for seniors by empowering the residents to develop a sense of control and independence as they create, as well as work fine motor skills for patients recovering from rehabilitation, and stimulate the residents cognitively. Ultimately, the program will aim to induce a higher sense of self regard and independence in patients by reassuring the creative process and allowing patients to have creative freedom over their artwork.
Community Site: Eastglen Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation

Sherna Joseph, University of Alabama School of Public Health, Collat School of Business (MPH/MBA)
Sherna will develop and implement a health program for East Thomas Neighborhood Association. This program will assist the residents with navigation to health services, diabetes self-management education, and heart disease initiatives.
Community Site: East Thomas Neighborhood Association

“This is a talented and hard-working group of students who are passionate about improving health care and access to care,” said Kristin Boggs, Director of the Alabama chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “They’ve partnered with an impressive range of community-based groups that are working to help vulnerable people live healthier lives, and it will be very exciting to see how their projects progress over the next year.”

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 new class of Fellows will address an array of health issues affecting socially isolated older adults in Birmingham; caregivers of people living with muscular dystrophy; and young people with developmental disabilities; as well as other needs.

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.

“Many of our Fellows go on to build impressive professional careers. The process of moving their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to completion teaches them valuable skills in working with others in allied fields,” said Bruce Auerbach, MD, chairman of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “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 2017-18 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 2017-18 Alabama Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 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 Dr. Stefan Kertesz, who leads research and education on how to improve the care of people who are homeless and who also serves as Vice-Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors; Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist.

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. Other US-based ASF programs are located in Boston, Chicago, Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New Hampshire/Vermont; North Carolina; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.