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For Release: May 11, 2011
David Corriveau 603-653-1978
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9 Schweitzer Fellows from DMS

Hanover, NH—Nine students from Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) will lead health-related service projects for underserved individuals and communities during 2011-2012, under the New Hampshire-Vermont Schweitzer Fellows Program.

Almost 130 Dartmouth medical students have done the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) since Joseph F. O'Donnell, M.D., founded the regional program in 1996. Each year, about one-third of applicants—from professional schools around the two states—typically receive Schweitzer fellowships. This year's DMS fellows account for one-third of the New Hampshire/Vermont crop. Nationwide, about 250 students will conduct service projects.

"The Schweitzer Fellowship is the best example of idealism in action that I know," says O'Donnell, a professor of medicine and of psychiatry, and DMS's senior advising dean and director of community programs. "Students have the chance to, as Schweitzer said, 'grow into their ideals so that life cannot rob them of these.' The vertical support through school and site mentors, the horizontal support from peers—especially like-minded peers from other disciplines like law—and the joy of engagement with the community make this program so inspiring and impactful. The safety net is getting more porous these days, and these fellows link arms to help serve those in need at this time of great need in our region, country and world."

This coming year's DMS fellows and their projects follow:

  • Kirsten Orloff and Whitney Hitchcock will help The Family Place Parent Child Center of Norwich, Vt., create and implement a program of nutrition, fitness, and healthy-lifestyle education. Christine Dehnert and Jyothi Ravindra will conduct a similar project at Hannah House in Lebanon, N.H., while Cindy Tsai aims to bring nutrition education to daycare centers around New Hampshire and Vermont. All three projects will integrate the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Kids Countdown, which encourages eating nutritious food, regular exercise, less time watching television, and avoiding sugary soft drinks.

  • Kevin McNerney aims to set up a program to educate and mentor teens struggling with issues of substance abuse, through the Second Growth program in White River Junction, Vt.

  • Brenda Ratemo will lead an effort to provide tutors and mentors for students at Lebanon (NH) High School who need help learning English as a second language.

  • Edmund Tsui and Sandolsam Cha will join forces to help the Good Neighbor Health Clinic of White River Junction screen uninsured adults for vision problems.

Upon completion of their initial year, these Schweitzer Fellows will join a network of more than 2,000 Schweitzer Fellows for Life. Among their DMS peers with Schweitzer experience are Karl Dietrich and Holly Schroeder, who spent 2010-2011 working with Upper Valley dairy farmers and the professional staff of the Little Rivers Health Care clinics in east-central Vermont to improve access to health care for migrant workers at the farms.

"This project has motivated us and served as a constant reminder of why we entered the field of medicine," says Schroeder. "We have been surprised to learn what can be accomplished by two medical students in the relatively short time when supported by each other, mentors, and the community."

Adds Dietrich: "We are excited to think what can be accomplished if the effort of all Schweitzer Fellows is multiplied across a lifetime."

Information about other 2011-2012 recipients from around the Twin States, and about recipients from previous years, is available here. To learn more about the national program visit and the Schweitzer Fellowship Blog.


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