Nine medical students awarded in Schweitzer Fellowship program

  This year, nine students at the College of Medicine have been awarded the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship out of 250 other scholars nationwide.   Each team of students is provided with a grant from the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program to carry out service projects to meet health needs of underserviced individuals and communities, according to University Communications.   The fellows are tasked with creating and implementing a service project in the community with support from the program and faculty advisers.   “The mission of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is to develop leaders in service: individuals who are dedicated and skilled in addressing the health needs of underserved communities, and whose example influences and inspires others,” according to the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship website.   The students, all members of the class of 2014, choose to either work in pairs or alone on their service projects, said Fellow Marian Jerome, who is working on a project with her partner Elizabeth Blasberg.   Jerome and Blasberg are working on a project to create a more comprehensive home for adult refugees through research in the local Burlington community, according to University Communications.    “We also hope to gather information to increase education in the medical school about global health and refugee health care, to incorporate it into the curriculum,” Jerome said.   Another team of fellows, Peter Cooch and Anastasia Coutinho, are working on a project in collaboration with the Community Health Center to develop lesson plans that educate incoming refugees on the health care system in Burlington.   “[We] work with incoming refugees by holding a medical education curriculum on how the healthcare system works [and] what you should know, as there is no formal education when they come here,” Couchio stated.   Their work is not only helping the refugees with all of the logistics of the healthcare system, but also helping them settle into life here in Burlington, she said.   “Teaching these classes helps keep me engaged and remembering why I went into medicine,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved with the communities I want to be helping and we could not have gotten here without the help of the Schweitzer Fellowship program.”   Medical school is isolating, and to feel like you are a part of the Burlington community and is the best part of the projects, Coutinho said.   The projects and the fellowship program have given [students] the opportunity to get out in the community and help the kinds of people we want to be helping, Cooch said.   “It’s heartwarming to know that the simple things we do really improve people’s lives,” he said. “When I’m running, I sometimes run past former participants and [when] they always address me with an enthusiastic ‘namaste,’ it reminds me why I came to med school.”