2017-2018 Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Since its launch in 1992, 41 students from MGH Institute of Health Professions have been named a U.S. Schweitzer Fellow. They have joined the more than 250 students chosen annually from the nation's top health and human services schools in becoming a part of the U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program.
Schweitzer Fellows – mostly university graduate students – partner with community-based organizations to identify an unmet health need, design a yearlong service project with a demonstrable impact on that need, and bring that project from idea to implementation and impact – all on top of their usual graduate school responsibilities.
After successfully completing their initial year, they become members of the Schweitzer Fellows for Life alumni network of over 2,000 Leaders in Service who are dedicated and skilled in meeting the health needs of underserved communities.
The 14 US. programs annually serve more than 25,000 people and offer prevention, wellness and access programs that address the underlying causes of health inequities, such as poverty, the environment, and education. In doing so, the Schweitzer Fellowship works to improve health outcomes in underserved communities. The Boston program is the oldest of the Schweitzer program sites in the U.S.
Here are the Institute’s Schweitzer Fellows for 2017-2018:
Conners, a student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, is addressing health and wellness in the indigenous community in Boston by developing a Youth Health and Wellness program and recruiting adult volunteers to be seen in the MGH Institute's free OT Clinical Center for Learning, Participation and Rehabilitation (OT CLiPR). The adults, seen at the OT CLiPR for a variety of reasons, will learn how to manage their health and daily routines. Conners will collaborate with nursing students at the Institute to educate Native students on strategies for managing stress and improving health, what to expect at a doctor’s visit, and health professions that they may pursue as a career. Conners will gather data and develop a model that is easily replicable and scalable to other urban or reservation settings.
A student in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, McGuire is addressing continuity of care in Boston by piloting a discharge planning program for detainees at the Nashua Street Jail, a Boston city jail administered by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. Currently, detainees leaving the jail do not receive this type of service. Entry into the criminal justice system could be an opportunity for these patients to be connected with health care and social support services that can empower them. Similar work in this field has demonstrated that robust continuity of care can lead to better engagement with the health care system and improved health outcomes, including reduced rates of recidivism. Detention or incarceration has been shown to be an independent health risk factor; additionally, roughly half the incarcerated population in the United States has a currently diagnosed mental health condition, and within the first two weeks of release from a prison or jail, the mortality rate of the justice-involved population is 12.7 times that of the general population. An intervention that impacts this population during that critical first two weeks after their release can dramatically affect not only their quality of life, but also their quantity of life.