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Schweitzer Fellow Bhavika Kaul, pictured with AMA President Dr. Cecil B. Wilson.

Every year, the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation honors emerging medical professionals with Leadership Awards recognizing “strong, nonclinical leadership skills in advocacy, community service and/or education.”

Given that The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF)’s mission is to develop Leaders in Service, it’s fitting that two of this year’s inspiring AMA Leadership Award recipients — Bhavika Kaul and Betty Chung — are Schweitzer Fellows for Life (program alumni).

If those names sound familiar, it might be because Chung was featured in one of our early installments of Five Questions for a Fellow, and Kaul was one of three Schweitzer Fellows who shared her journey of service at Pri-Med Southwest last March.

As a 2007-08 Schweitzer Fellow in Philadelphia, Chung worked to provide Hepatitis B education and screenings in Philadelphia’s Pacific American communities; she now works for Hep B Free Philly. As she told us back in 2009:

“Like Dr. Schweitzer, I, too, came to medicine as a calling later in life and we only have one life to live, so I choose to live it serving others in causes that are near and dear to my heart.”

Kaul, as a 2008-09 Schweitzer Fellow in Houston, partnered with Texas Children’s Hospital and Catholic Charities to establish a rotating mobile clinic that brings health care and social support to refugees from Burma. She spoke movingly about the complexities of her Schweitzer project at Pri-Med Southwest last year:

“Many [refugees in Houston] have spent years, if not their entire lives, living in the refugee camps. Most don’t speak English and may not be literate in their own languages or have employable skills. Some have never seen stoves or microwaves and so must learn to use the technology that we take for granted.

Many are apprehensive about taking public transportation because they cannot read street signs and instead have to memorize routes based on how many McDonald’s arches they pass. Without public transportation, they cannot get to the clinic or hospital, and without the hospital, they cannot get the care that they need.

So my project aimed to develop a program that would help them learn how to navigate our complex healthcare system … I remember a couple months ago I went to speak with some of the women who are part of Catholic Charities Trauma Literacy Program; halfway through our conversation, I realized that one family had been without food for a week because they had fallen through the cracks and not received their food stamps. The caseworker was unaware of their need and the family, having had food delivered to them at the refugee camps, did not know who to turn to. This program aims to catch such families before they fall.”

Congratulations to these two Schweitzer Fellows for Life who, true to Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s exhortation, have “made their life their argument.”