The Chicago Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program, which provides yearlong fellowships to graduate health students for public service projects, awarded fellowships to University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry students Gabija Revis and Jessica Williams for 2016-2017.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program is the local chapter of the Boston, MA-based Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The program also is supported by the Chicago-based Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, an independent policy center that conducts research, educates, and collaborates with other groups to advocate policies and impact health systems to improve people’s health status
The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program is dedicated to developing a corps of emerging health professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs.
The program is highly competitive, and chose 31 students from Chicago-area medically related universities as 2016-2017 Schweitzer Fellows.
Revis said that the goal of her Schweitzer project is “to address the underlying health inequities faced by children with complex medical needs.”
These individuals are not only more likely to have serious unmet oral needs, but also are less likely to have access to a permanent dental home.
“My project will create and implement an oral health component for the Almost Home Kids caregiver training program used to teach caregivers of medically-complex children,” Revis explained.
Chicago-based Almost Home Kids is a transition facility for children being transferred out of intensive hospital care, and a site where the families of these children are trained to be caregivers.
“In addition to training caregivers on how to address oral health needs of the medically complex child, I also hope to shed light on the access-to-care issues facing this underserved community,” Revis said. “My ultimate goal is to help these children find permanent dental homes in the Chicagoland area.”
She noted that her experience at Almost Home Kids also will be used to educate dental and medical professionals on-site and at UIC “in hopes of encouraging more providers to consider working directly with children with complex medical needs.”
Williams’ Schweitzer project “will serve low-income older adults throughout the Chicagoland area, at various community centers and nursing homes,” she said.
“I have an overarching goal of improving oral health literacy with a specialized focus on the dynamic relationship between aging, chronic diseases, and oral health,” Williams added.
She will work with underserved older adults to develop a curriculum which promotes oral health literacy.
Williams also will host educational seminars in an effort to address the oral health knowledge gaps of the local senior community.
“I am still in the process of securing all of my sites,” Williams explained. “One of them will include Ravenswood Community Services, an organization which connects the community with basic, but essential resources, including food, screenings, and information about health and life skills.
“I will be providing oral health education to the ‘neighbors’ who participate in RCS’s weekly Community Kitchen dinners,” she added. “I will be volunteering at additional senior centers and homes in addition to RCS.”
“Since 2007, with the exception of one year, the College has had at least one student accepted into this highly competitive and prestigious program,” said Dr. Caswell Evans, Associate Dean for Prevention and Public Health Sciences at the College.
For more information about the Schweitzer Fellowship Program, log on to http://www.schweitzerfellowship.org/chapters/chicago/.