Three Drexel med students named Schweitzer fellows

Three Drexel medical students selected as Schweitzer Fellows: Phoebe Dacha (upper left), Alicia Howard (right) and Ashley Stephens (lower left). – DREXEL COMMUNICATIONS

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship recently selected three Drexel University College of Medicine students as Greater Philadelphia Schweitzer Fellows for 2012–13.

Phoebe Dacha, Alicia Howard, and Ashley Stephens will join approximately 240 other Schweitzer Fellows from across the country in conceptualizing and carrying out service projects that address the unmet health needs of underserved individuals and communities.

Dacha and Howard, both third-year medical students, will serve low-income youth in the West Philadelphia area through “Foundation to Success” (FTS) — a project that seeks to assist participants in successfully navigating the pathway to higher education.

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FTS will provide math, science and writing tutoring sessions; introduce post-secondary resources; conduct public health-related workshops; and involve youth participants in group community service initiatives — all aimed at guiding participants toward higher levels of education and preventing the future development of general adverse health outcomes.

Stephens, a first-year medical student, will develop a tutoring and health education program for pediatric HIV patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

She will support patients in improving their performance in school as well as making healthy choices throughout their lives. She will enlist other Drexel students to serve as volunteers, and will conduct weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions as well as monthly health education sessions.

Upon completion of their fellowship year, these students will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life, and join a vibrant network of nearly 2,500 individuals who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.

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.

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. A number of Schweitzer Fellows also work at the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Africa, collaborating with hospital staff to help provide skilled care through over 35,000 outpatient visits and more than 6,000 hospitalizations annually for patients from all parts of Gabon.

When Fellows’ initial year ends, they carry their commitment to meeting the health needs of underserved people forward as members of the Schweitzer Fellows for Life alumni network, a pipeline of Leaders in Service now nearly 2,500 strong.

ASF’s national office is located in Boston, Mass., and hosted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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