March 29, 2017

Four medical students named in 2017-18 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows

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Four students from the UAB School of Medicine were named in the 2017-2018 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows, a group of sixteen graduate students across the state who will spend the next year implementing service projects designed to address social factors that impact health.

The UAB medical student selected are:

Caroline Fuller

Fuller is addressing childhood nutrition and exercise in the East Lake community by establishing a nutrition curriculum during PEER, Inc’s summer camp at East Lake United Methodist Church. This program is intended to help children from 2nd grade to Highschool learn how to exercise safely and eat healthy given their limited access to food and materials. Ultimately, the curriculum “Student Bodyworks: A Mobile Kitchen to Integrate Nutrition Science (and math) Into Elementary School Classroom” will give these students the tools to allow them to take care of their bodies and their minds.
Community Site: PEER, Inc.

Ashleigh Burns Irwin

Irwin is addressing health literacy in children in downtown Birmingham, Alabama through the creation and implementation of a healthy lifestyle curriculum for the downtown YMCA afterschool program. This curriculum, targeted to students from Kindergarten through 2nd grade, addresses themes including nutrition and physical activity, as well as diseases and behaviors often seen in the community (Diabetes, hypertension, smoking, alcohol, etc.). Ultimately the goal of this program is to increase the students’ knowledge about the many factors that contribute to health and increase the likelihood of these students making good choices regarding their own health and lifestyle.
Community Site: YMCA of Greater Birmingham Youth Center

Koushik Kasanagottu

Kasanagottu is addressing lack of access to quality nutrition information to disadvantaged groups by developing a lifestyle checklist that contains evidence-based guidelines to prevent or manage chronic diseases. This checklist will contain simple, but effective methods to switch to a healthier lifestyle and participants will be asked to select 2-3 goals that they wish to accomplish. The program aims to motivate individuals to make permanent lifestyle changes that are healthy and habitual.
Community Site: University Medical Center

Carson Klein

Klein is addressing the effects of social isolation on the elderly in Birmingham, Alabama by developing a volunteer program that pairs interested medical students with socially isolated vulnerable elders currently enrolled in the UAB House Calls Program. The program aims to reduce the impact of social isolation on the mental and physical health of these vulnerable elders through various activities and games. It also provides a rich service learning opportunity for the engaged students.
Community Site: UAB House Calls Program

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.

“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.” 

“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, M.D., 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.

The Alabama Schweitzer program is housed in the School of Medicine, in partnership with the UAB Schools of Dentistry, Health Professions, Nursing and Public Health. The Alabama chapter is ASF’s 14th U.S.-based program.

Other Alabama Schweitzer fellows include:

  • Hamilton Behlen, UAB School of Dentistry
  • Raymond Dawkins, UAB School of Dentistry 
  • Bhakti Desai, UAB School of Dentistry
  • Katherine Cassidy, UAB School of Nursing
  • Meghan Pattison, UAB School of Nursing
  • Catherine Jones, UAB School of Public Health (Epidemiology)
  • Sherna Joseph, UAB School of Public Health, Collat School of Business (MPH/MBA)
  • William Gafford, Samford University, Ida Moffett School of Nursing
  • Newton Tinsley, Samford University, Ida Moffett School of Nursing
  • Jasmine Grayson Tuskegee University, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Micah Thomas, Tuskegee University, Nursing and Allied Health (Occupational Therapy)
  • Jennifer Payne, University of Montevallo, College of Education (Counseling)