August 23, 2022 | Downers Grove, IL
A Midwestern University medical student has been selected for the nationally recognized Schweitzer Fellowship, a program for graduate students who aspire to become lifelong leaders in community service. Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine student Samantha Maurer (CCOM 2023) will participate in the year-long service-learning program that empowers Fellows to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities. “I am looking forward to giving back to my community alongside other healthcare professionals who aspire to be well informed and committed to addressing healthcare inequities,” Samantha said.
For her service project, Samantha will empower children in foster care at the LYDIA Home through educational activities teaching them about their developing health and ways they can take ownership of their well-being. LYDIA Home Association is a nonprofit organization that has been serving children in Chicago since 1916. Its mission is to strengthen families and to care for children when families cannot. “I chose LYDIA Home as the site for my project to combat the worrisome health trends that exist among children in the foster care system of Chicago,” she said. “I’m seeking to provide hands-on activities to teach children how to pay attention to mental health, prepare healthy meals, exercise, and so much more. The ultimate goal is to help these underserved children reflect on their health and provide tools to make empowering changes.”
Using an interdisciplinary approach, the Schweitzer Fellowship program exposes Fellows to real-world interprofessional collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service. “Through this program, I hope to learn more about the barriers that are in place that cause health inequity in our community of Chicago, specifically for children. If I can better understand our system and its complexities, then I will be more of an asset to my community as a future physician. I want to make a positive impact, just as so many have done in my life, and if I can do that for even just one child over the next year it will be well worth the effort and experience as I head into a career of supporting and serving others,” Samantha said.
Named in honor of humanitarian and Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages students to “make their lives their argument” by helping address unmet health needs among vulnerable Chicago residents. In collaboration with existing clinics, schools, social service agencies, and other community organizations, each Schweitzer Fellow provides 200 hours of direct service, separate from and in addition to their already demanding academic and clinical requirements.
“The nature of this program will require me to learn deeply about the children at LYDIA Home and develop an effective approach to delivering healthcare education. These components are at the center of the physician profession, and I'm looking forward to refining those skills with this opportunity,” Samantha added. She will participate in the program while also completing her final year of medical school at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she is further developing her skills as a caring, compassionate physician prepared to provide the best care possible to future patients.