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Three OU-HCOM students selected as Albert Schweitzer Fellows

(ATHENS, Ohio May 2, 2012) The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) announced that three students at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) are among the next class of 16 Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows. 

During the upcoming year, these OU-HCOM students will join approximately 240 other 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellows across the country in conceptualizing and carrying out service projects that address the social factor that affect health in underserved communities:

Laura Ford OMSI, plans to adapt the Complete Health Improvement Project and make it accessible to underserved people living in Athens County.

Community Site: Athens City-County Health Department; Live Healthy Appalachia
 
Bridget Schoeny, OMSIV, will implement an opiate addiction intervention program for residents of Athens County.

Community Site: Rising Appalachian Warriors

 
 
Amanda Timmel, OMSI, will develop and implement a childhood obesity intervention for Appalachian youth, drawing on the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Kids Countdown—a health promotion initiative based on evidence-based messaging that emphasizes healthy nutritional choices and behaviors.

Community Site: Live: Big Brothers Big Sisters
 

“Everyone at OU-HCOM congratulates Laura, Bridget and Amanda on earning this prestigious national award,” said Jack Brose, D.O., executive dean for health affairs at Ohio University and dean of OU-HCOM. “They competed against many talented applicants and worthy projects.”

In 2010, OU-HCOM joined with the Ohio State University College of Medicine as academic partners and sponsors in the newest site for the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, the 12th such program in the nation.

“We have long been partners with the Ohio State University School of Medicine, and this is a great example of a service program that, by working together, helps strengthen Ohio and its residents,” Brose said. "These three students’ participation as Schweitzer fellows fits perfectly with our efforts and our commitment to service in underserved communities, particularly in rural areas."

 These Fellows — primarily university graduate students — partner with community-based organizations to identify an unmet health need, design a yearlong 200-hour service project with a demonstrable impact on that need, and bring that project from idea to implementation and impact. Rooted in a holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical issues, but also the social determinants of health. Annually, approximately 250 Schweitzer Fellows deliver more than 40,000 hours of health-related community service at thirteen locations across the U.S. 

“The Schweitzer Fellowship provides a learning and service opportunity for our entire community, for both Ohio University and Athens County,” said Kathy Trace, director of the OU-HCOM Area Health Education Center and Community Health Programs, which administers the Schweitzer program in Athens. “These remarkable medical students are using this experience as Schweitzer Fellows to better our neighbors and community members.”

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.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship simultaneously promotes Schweitzer’s legacy and addresses a critical gap in today’s health care 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, M.D., director of Ethics and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“Our U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program is a two-pronged means of addressing that gap,” Forrow said. “Fellows deliver an 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.

Upon completion of their initial year, Ford, Schoney and Timmel will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of over 2,000 individuals who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals. Nearly all the Fellows for Life say that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serve the underserved.

Originally founded in 1940 to support Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s medical work in Africa, ASF is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop Leaders in Service: individuals who are dedicated and skilled in meeting the health needs of underserved communities, and whose example influences and inspires others. To learn more about the Schweitzer Fellowship’s story, watch “Creating Change, Improving Health” at http://bit.ly/xSF5U8.

Launched in 2012, the Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows Program is hosted and sponsored by The Ohio State University College of Medicine, in conjunction with the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Other generous sponsors include Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation; Ohio Health; Trinity Lutheran Seminary; The Ohio State Office of Outreach & Engagement; and The Ohio State University Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Dentistry, Nursing, Optometry, Pharmacy, Public Health, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine. More information is available at www.schweitzerfellowship.org/columbus.

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a national leader in graduating primary care physicians, which includes family practice, general internal medicine and pediatrics. More than half of OU-HCOMs practicing graduates serve as primary care physicians, and 60 percent choose to stay in Ohio to practice. That makes the college number one in Ohio and near the top ten nationally in medical schools that graduate physicians who practice primary care, particularly in under-served rural areas.

 
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Last updated: 11/30/2012