The year-long service learning program empowers health professions graduate students to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.
Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages service-minded students to “make their lives their argument” by addressing the serious health challenges faced by members of society whose important needs are not being met. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each of the 31 newly selected Schweitzer Fellows will provide 200 hours of direct service.
Fellows will serve a variety of populations including older adults, immigrants, and the homeless through projects that address their health needs.
For his service project, Kosiba will partner with the NIU Family, Health, Wellness and Literacy Center to conduct a “Rise Up Against Falls” program targeting older adults in the DeKalb and Chicagoland communities. With more than one-third of the older adult population involved in falls each year, Kosiba will provide fall screening and prevention education, and wellness activities to help individuals maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.
“Over one-third of adults 65 years and older fall each year, and falls have become the leading cause of death by injury for older adults. As the population ages, this number will only increase unless we implement strategies to help prevent it,” Kosiba said.
“After seeing the impact falls have had on the independence and health status of my family and in my profession, this has become a major area of interest for me. With my professional background and the support of this Fellowship, I hope to implement a fall prevention program that meets the needs of the community and helps reduce the risk of falls.”
The 2014-15 Schweitzer Fellows represent 14 area universities and a diversity of health professions and public service fields including medicine, public health, nursing, pharmacy, law and counseling. The program’s interdisciplinary approach exposes students to real-world inter-professional, collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service.
“The values, support, and dedication in meeting specific health needs of the community and building future service leaders is truly what motivated me to apply for the Schweitzer Fellowship,” Kosiba said.
“I know this will be a very challenging but rewarding experience, pushing me to grow and make a difference on an issue that is important to me and many others. Through strong support provided by the fellowship, I will be able to develop my ideas into a reality. This experience will also give me the opportunity to get involved and collaborate with other future health care professionals in making a larger impact on the specific needs of our communities.”
Kosiba and his peers will carry out their community service projects in addition to their academic program requirements, and their participation in the fellowship represent these exceptional students’ commitment to improving health in Chicago’s most vulnerable communities.
“Long work hours and intense course work can lead to cynicism and burnout in even the most idealistic health sciences students. Fortunately, the Schweitzer Fellowship is there to help preserve their idealism,” said Dr. Steven Rothschild, who serves on the Schweitzer Advisory Council and is a board member at Health & Medicine, the non-profit health policy center that administers the Chicago Fellowship.
Rothschild is a practicing family physician and faculty member at Rush Medical College.
“By working together over the course of their fellowship year, Schweitzer students strengthen their values of humanism, empathy and altruism. And aren’t those the qualities that all of us want in the nurses, doctors, and others who take care of us when we are sick? Rothschild added. “The Schweitzer Fellowship builds a commitment to a lifetime of service, and our society is better off for that.”