The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its 2018-19 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Fifteen graduate students from Auburn University, Samford University, University of Montevallo, and the Schools of Health Professions, 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.

“This is a passionate and dedicated group of students who are seeking to improve health care and access to care,” said Kristin Boggs, Director of the Alabama chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “They’ve partnered with community-based groups ranging from schools, clinics, food banks and more 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 and how they grow as individual leaders.”

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 including those affecting adults with HIV; youth and adults with mental illness; addiction prevention; 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 inspiring careers of service to vulnerable individuals and populations.  Our support for them as they learn how to translate their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to actual, enduring impact is crucial to their future effectiveness in working with the underserved,” said Lachlan Forrow, MD, Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “The rapidly-growing network of our alumni – now thousands of “Schweitzer Fellows for Life” working across the country and the world – is already contributing to major improvements in the care of countless people.”

The 15 Alabama Fellows will join approximately 200 other 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites around the United States, as well as four in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2018-19 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

2018-19 Albert Schweitzer Fellows of Alabama

 

Auburn University

Adam Archer and Carl Okerberg, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy

Archer and Okerberg are addressing unmet medical needs for underinsured and at-risk adults in and around Lee County, Alabama by increasing vaccination rates and addressing barriers to medication access and adherence. Working at a free clinic, their project will focus on introducing vaccine services and helping find resources and eliminate barriers for their patients in affording medications to improve health outcomes for the vulnerable population it serves. Community Site: Mercy Medical Clinic

 

UAB School of Health Professions

Michelle Kung, University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Health Professions

Raina Jain, University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health (Health Care Organization and Policy)

Kung and Jain are addressing substance abuse and addiction in Birmingham, Alabama by establishing a life skills training program for teens and young adults. They were motivated to action by the current opioid epidemic to develop a prevention program that addresses the root causes of addiction. Their program will teach adolescents essential skills in effective communication, decision-making, and coping mechanisms. Their goal is to start an informative discussion on addiction while boosting the confidence of teens and young adults in their abilities to resist substance abuse. Community Site: Sumiton Middle School

 

UAB School of Medicine

Jacob Files, University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)

For his project, Files is addressing nutrition barriers for the HIV+ population in the Birmingham area.  His project will focus on those HIV+ individuals who classify as "food insecure" and do not have access to healthy food options.  This population has been found to have an overall worse prognosis when compared to the HIV+ population as a whole.  Files will be working with Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO) and building upon one of their new initiatives called the BAO Food and Education Delivery (B-FED) Program.  Specifically, he will initiate nutrition education classes and build capacity for B-FED.  By improving access to healthier food options and providing nutrition education classes for these HIV+ individuals, Files hopes to improve the overall quality of life for this high-risk population.  Community Site: Birmingham AIDS Outreach

 

Amy Hudson and Nicole Lassiter, University of Alabama School of Medicine

Hudson and Lassiter are addressing diabetes management in Jefferson and Shelby Counties by developing a curriculum targeted to improve patient education and health behavior. The curriculum will address various aspects related to diabetes management including nutrition, physical activity, and more. The program seeks to educate and work with patients to craft effective diabetes management plans tailored to their individual needs. Hudson and Lassiter will also work with local food banks to ensure that diabetes-friendly food options are available for those who need it. The goal of the project is to help people with diabetes learn to manage the condition and help local food banks better serve this population by providing food options that meet their nutritional needs.  Community Site: Community of Hope Health Clinic, Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, UAB Blazer Kitchen

 

Madilyn Tomaso, University of Alabama School of Medicine

Tomaso is addressing nutrition education at Birmingham Summer Meal Program sites and select Corner Markets run by the Community Foodbank of Central Alabama by developing a curriculum aimed at increasing the consumption of healthy foods provided at these sites. In addition to providing nutrition education, the project plans to implement on-site cooking demonstrations and health screenings. The project also plans to implement the USDA’s Summer Food, Summer Moves program at Summer Meal sites. By utilizing fun, hands-on activities this project aims to improve the health literacy of participants by providing the tools necessary to have a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Community Site: Community Foodbank of Central Alabama

 

UAB School of Nursing

Shivangi Argade, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Argade is addressing cardiac arrest emergency preparedness in Alabama public schools by reinforcing CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) teaching to school staff. In addition, an emergency response team will be created, and AED emergency drills will be initiated to train school staff on how to use the AEDs and qualify schools as “heart safe.” Essentially, the staff will feel more competent and confident as planning and conducting the emergency drills are completed. Overall, the program will not only make staff feel more comfortable but will also make schools more safe if a cardiac arrest were to occur. Community site: Alabama LifeStart

 

Shannon S. Polson, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Meg Boothe, Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy

Polson and Booth are addressing a need for medical access and integrated care in Birmingham by providing health and mental health crisis referrals to clients of the South Highlands Outreach Project while concurrently developing a strategic plan for a future dual integrated care clinic to service medically uninsured/underinsured persons with mental health diagnoses. In addition to decreasing mental health disparities, this partnered project seeks to solidify existing community partnerships and remove barriers to access. The purposeful interdisciplinary collaboration between primary care, mental health, nursing, pharmacy, social work, health systems administration and public health seeks to ensure coordination of diagnosis, treatment, pharmaceuticals, psychosocial therapy and lateral transitions of care as needed. Community Site: South Highlands Outreach Project, South Highlands Presbyterian Church

 

UAB School of Public Health

Josh Bruce and Alison Footman, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health (Health Behavior)

Bruce and Footman are addressing access to HIV/STI testing across Alabama by using a Mobile Testing Unit. We hope to normalize the presence of mobile testing units within Birmingham and the surrounding communities and show the feasibility in using the unit to increase HIV/STI testing. Through this project we also hope to expand access to care and link newly diagnosed HIV/STI positive individuals to care. Community Site: Birmingham AIDS Outreach

 

Sherilyn Garner, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health (Health Behavior)

Garner is addressing mental health stigma and self-management in East Birmingham by developing and implementing mindfulness activities including yoga for adolescents from the local community.  In addition to assisting youth with increasing their self-awareness, the program will utilize culturally-tailored strategies to improve prosocial behavior and psychological stress in youth. The program also aims to foster positive attitudes and behaviors related to mental health and its treatment.

Community Site: Oak Tree Ministries

 

Raina Jain, University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health (Health Care Organization and Policy)

Michelle Kung, University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Health Professions

Kung and Jain are addressing substance abuse and addiction in Birmingham, Alabama by establishing a life skills training program for teens and young adults. They were motivated to action by the current opioid epidemic to develop a prevention program that addresses the root causes of addiction. Their program will teach adolescents essential skills in effective communication, decision-making, and coping mechanisms. Their goal is to start an informative discussion on addiction while boosting the confidence of teens and young adults in their abilities to resist substance abuse. Community Site: Sumiton Middle School

University of Montevallo

Jade Lee, University of Montevallo, School of Education (Counseling)

Lee is addressing antisocial behaviors in Jefferson County by establishing a social and emotional based learning program for at-risk youth. The program utilizes a curriculum based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) model by encouraging prosocial behaviors through character development. The goal of this program is to decrease antisocial behavior and increase prosocial behavior by instilling and strengthening self-awareness as well as fostering positive relationships.  Community Site: Fairfield Alternative School

Samford University

Meg Boothe, Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy

Shannon S. Polson, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Polson and Booth are addressing a need for medical access and integrated care in Birmingham by providing health and mental health crisis referrals to clients of the South Highlands Outreach Project while concurrently developing a strategic plan for a future dual integrated care clinic to service medically uninsured/underinsured persons with mental health diagnoses. In addition to decreasing mental health disparities, this partnered project seeks to solidify existing community partnerships and remove barriers to access. The purposeful interdisciplinary collaboration between primary care, mental health, nursing, pharmacy, social work, health systems administration and public health seeks to ensure coordination of diagnosis, treatment, pharmaceuticals, psychosocial therapy and lateral transitions of care as needed. Community Site: South Highlands Outreach Project, South Highlands Presbyterian Church