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With next year marking the centennial celebration of Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s iconic hospital in Africa, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is thrilled to announce the selection of its 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellows.

These 243 multidisciplinary graduate students at 12 ASF program sites throughout the U.S. will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, developing lifelong leadership skills, and living the famous physician-humanitarian’s message of service.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship simultaneously promotes Schweitzer’s legacy and addresses a critical gap in today’s health care landscape by equipping emerging professionals with the tools to address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health,” says ASF President Lachlan Forrow, MD, Director of Ethics and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Earlier this year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that although 85 percent of primary care physicians and pediatricians say their patients have health concerns caused by unmet social factors, only 20 percent of health professionals feel equipped to help their underserved patients actually address those social factors—including low incomes, environmentally unsafe housing, and lack of access to healthy foods, mental health care services, and educational opportunities.

“Established in 1992, our U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program is a two-pronged means of addressing that gap,” Forrow says. “Fellows deliver immediate impact on the root causes of health inequities by partnering with area community-based organizations to carry out mentored, entrepreneurial, yearlong service projects on issues like early childhood literacy, obesity, and access to health care. But the Fellowship’s leadership development programming also helps them to contextualize this experience—delivering lasting impact by developing health professionals with the capacity and cultural competence to address social factors on an ongoing and effective basis throughout their careers.”

Upon completion of their initial year, these 2012-13 Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life—and join a vibrant network of over 2,500 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals. 99 percent of Fellows for Life say that ASF is integral to sustaining their ongoing commitment to serving underserved people.

“Nearly 100 years ago, Schweitzer dedicated his life to serving others,” Forrow says. “These Fellows carry his torch forward. They are his living legacy.”

A full listing of this year’s Schweitzer Fellows and their schools, organized by location, follows—with the exception of the 2012-13 New Orleans Schweitzer Fellows, who will be announced in September. Detailed information on each Fellow and his/her Schweitzer project will be available at www.schweitzerfellowship.org.

For more information, contact patrice.taddonio@schweitzerfellowship.org.