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ASF President Dr. Lachlan Forrow and three other Schweitzer Fellows delivered the May 7 keynote address at the Pri-Med West conference in Anaheim, CA.

The three Schweitzer Fellows who took the stage at Pri-Med West in Anaheim last Friday took very different paths to get there.

First, there was Kimberly DeQuattro — who earned her Master’s in Opera before entering med school and becoming a Schweitzer Fellow. (“There’s some great pathology in opera — Mimi and Violetta had TB, Jo had scarlet fever, and every other soprano lead character has an Axis I or II disorder,” DeQuattro told the crowd.)

2009-10 Los Angeles Schweitzer Fellow Kimberly DeQuattro speaks at Pri-Med West on Friday, May 7.

Then came Pamela Eiselman, who was inspired to become a professional nurse by the writings of MEDICO founder Dr. Thomas Anthony Dooley, who worked side by side with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene, Africa. (“He treated hundreds of thousands of people who had no access to care, and demonstrated that a medical team could be kept in the field for sixteen months on a budget of $50,000 in 1957 dollar figures,” Eiselman said admiringly.)

2009-10 Bay Area Schweitzer Fellow Pamela Eiselman speaks at Pri-Med West on Friday, May 7. (Does that picture on the left look familiar?)

And finally, there was Rishi Manchanda, MD, MPH — a Schweitzer Fellow in Boston ten years ago who now directs a LA community clinic’s program in social medicine and health equity; who founded and directs the Rx Democracy! , a national nonpartisan campaign to advance civic engagement through health care; and who spearheaded a local Health and Human Rights Initiative, which has engaged over 2000 residents and community partners in the creation of the South Los Angeles Declaration of Health and Human Rights.

1999-2000 Boston Schweitzer Fellow Rishi Manchanda, MD, MPH speaks at Pri-Med West on Friday, May 7.

But as the 1,000-plus California clinicians who attended ASF President Dr. Lachlan Forrow’s May 7 Pri-Med West keynote learned, these three very different Schweitzer Fellows all had one thing in common: a commitment to following in Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s footsteps by meeting the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.

Kimberly, Pamela, and Rishi are just three of over 2,000 Schweitzer Fellows and Fellows for Life (program alumni) across the country making an on-the-ground difference in the health and lives of underserved individuals. At Dr. Forrow’s Pri-Med West keynote, clinicians heard from Forrow about the work of those Schweitzer Fellows, and that work’s relationship to their own personal journey towards “finding their own Lambarene” and reuniting medicine, healing, and service in their own lives.

They also heard from the Fellows themselves — Kimberly, who launched an education and mentoring program for at-risk young women in LA; Pamela, who developed a skin cancer screening initiative serving day laborers in Alamada County; and Rishi, who as a Schweitzer Fellow helped develop a men’s health education program to reach at-risk adolescent and young men.

After the keynote, attendees had the chance to attend a meet and greet with  the Fellows, as well as have Dr. Forrow sign a copy of Albert Schweitzer’s autobiography, Out of My Life and Thought, for them. (Out of My Life and Thought includes a foreword by Forrow; a $20 donation  was suggested for each signed book.)

Attendees’ generosity was staggering: members of the audience donated over $2,700. Those funds will be split between the Bay Area Schweitzer Fellows Program and the Los Angeles Schweitzer Fellows Program. These California programs are among ASF’s youngest — making Pri-Med audience members’ support even more invaluable.

We are thrilled that our message of addressing health disparities by developing “Leaders in Service” resonated so strongly with the doctors and nurses attending Pri-Med West. We are deeply grateful for these individuals’ support, as well as the generous institutional support provided to us by Pri-Med as a whole. Thank you all so much.