Eight Tufts graduate students have been named 2010-2011 Tufts-Schweitzer Fellows. Supported by Tisch College and Tufts health sciences schools, the program enables Tufts graduate students to implement service projects that have a lasting impact on the health of underserved communities.
This year’s Fellows are Alice Tin, Jonathan Brower and Michael Kwak from the School of Medicine; Daniel Hatfield, Latrice Goosby, and Lucy Myles from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Ross Icyda and Hubert Park from the School of Dental Medicine.
The Tufts program is part of the larger U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program. Now in its 18th year, the program supports more than 200 Fellows across the country including 25 in the Boston area.
Alice Tin, School of Medicine – BA/MPH Program
As a Tufts undergraduate and Tisch College Citizenship and Public Service (CPS) Scholar, Alice Tin, A’10, MPH ’11, worked extensively with the Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health of Somerville. Through her partnership with this organization, Tin, who was recently recognized with a Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service, saw that it was common for immigrant families to ask their teenage children to interpret for them in doctor’s offices.
“Essentially children become the gatekeeper between the immigrant family and U.S. society,” she explained. “It puts an immense amount of pressure on the children, who are often in charge of paying bills and filling out other important documents. Because medical vocabulary is extremely specific, it also creates many opportunities for misinterpretation, which could lead to adverse health outcomes such as misdiagnosis.”
Committed to reducing these negative occurrences, Tin helped launch the Welcome Project’s Liaison Interpreters Program of Somerville (LIPS), a program that trains bi-lingual high school students as interpreters. As part of her Schweitzer Fellowship, she will be expanding LIPS to increase services for student to maintain fluency and heighten their ability to articulate health messages in both English and their target language.
“I believe an important aspect of the LIPS program is to facilitate the students’ exploration of how they can apply their language capabilities as an asset in service of their community,” Tin said. “It is a very special experience to be committed to a place, group of people and issues – to celebrate the everyday victories and to work through the problems.”
Jonathan Brower and Michael Kwak, School of Medicine
Michael Kwak (left) and Jonathan Brower
While working in 2007 at a New Jersey hospital serving a largely indigent population, Jonathan Brower, M’13, was surprised to learn how often patients sought Emergency Department care too late to achieve a cure.
Brower recognized that these trends resulted from a complex interaction of socioeconomic hardship, cultural differences, language barriers, negative experiences with health care, and distrust of the system. However, he was also determined to help chip away at these often intimidating barriers.
“As a medical student, I don’t have the expertise or insight to resolve the fundamental social, cultural and economic forces that consistently lead to poor health outcomes in certain cities,” he said. “But having worked with youth extensively in the past, I know that I can counter traditionally held attitudes more effectively and permanently by investing time, energy and passion into the community’s adolescents.”
With this thought in mind, Brower and fellow student Michael Kwak, M’13, created a partnership between Tufts medical students and seventh grade biology classes at Wright Middle School in Chelsea. Entitled “IDEAS in Medicine,” their Schweitzer Fellowship project aims to improve students’ health literacy and encourage them to pursue careers in health sciences.
“By providing youth with a strong counterexample to the prevailing attitudes regarding health care, we hope that our work will have a long-term impact on the community’s health,” Brower said.
Read more about their work in the Tisch College newsletter.
Daniel Hatfield, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
For his Schweitzer Fellowship project, Daniel Hatfield, N’11, is partnering with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to establish a “walk-to-run” program for overweight early adolescent boys.
“In addition to helping boys find opportunities to be physically active in the local area, the program will incorporate nutrition education elements and engage families and the community more broadly in fitness efforts,” he said. “Ultimately, I hope the program will not only foster positive attitudes and behaviors related to physical activity, but also build strong mentoring relationships and engender a broader sense of self-confidence, perseverance, and empowerment among the boys who participate.”
Hatfield is looking forward to both working with the program participants and making sure that the program is relevant to the community and its needs.
“One of my main goals for the next few months is to get to know East Boston and the kids who live there,” he said. “Having spent several years teaching, I have a good feel for how to motivate prep school kids, but to what extent will that translate for East Boston middle-schoolers? Through this project, I hope to explore these areas.”
Read about Hatfield’s work in the Boston Globe.
Latrice Goosby, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Working with the Boston-based Paulist Center, Latrice Goosby will provide health-related advice to the Center’s members. In addition to teaching community members about nutritional awareness and obesity-related issues, Goosy will spend her Schweitzer Fellowship working with the Center to serve healthier meals for its community supper club.
In an effort to bring these lessons home, Goosby will also work with members of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church to enhance the nutritive value of churchgoers’ meals prepared at home.
Lucy Myles, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy – MS/MPH Program
In collaboration with The Food Project, a non-profit community farm dedicated to bringing together youth and adults from diverse backgrounds to build a sustainable food system, Lucy Myles will bring youth and community members together to address issues of equitable healthy food access. Through her Schweitzer Fellowship, Myles will run fieldwork activities for community members and youth as a volunteer integrator on the Food Project’s Farm.
Myles will also partner with the Project’s staff to reach out to underserved communities in the Boston area.
Ross Icyda and Hubert Park, School of Dental Medicine
Through their Schweitzer Fellowship, Ross Icyda, D’11, and Hubert Park, D’11, will provide oral health education and dental care at the Sharewood Project in Malden.
“At Sharewood Clinic, I commonly help community members who don’t know what to do when a toothache keepsthem up at night, or who have had enough cavities to develop a big gap in their smile, preventing them from getting job interviews,” Park said.
Twice a month, Park and Icyda screen patients to determine what kind of needs they have and how urgent the needs are. The two students will also go over patients’ medical history, provide examinations, and educate them about the ways they can improve their oral health and general health. In the future, they hope to provide their patients with palliative/restorative services.
“From seeing that that my patients have so many problems that could easily have been prevented or minimized with early interventional treatments, I realized that ‘Access to Care’ is still one of the biggest problems in dentistry,” Park said.
“As a healthcare provider, I hope to serve as many people as I can with this project, and hopefully this opportunity will mold me into a better clinician and a person,” he added.
Born in 1875 in Germany, Albert Schweitzer dedicated his life as a medical doctor towards direct service of people in Africa. He is famous for his credo of “Reverence for Life” which stresses the interdependence of all human life from all backgrounds.
Originally published June 2010