(Top, from left to right) Kim Jones, Katie Waeldner, and Michelle Nguyen. (Bottom, from left to right) Wais Makaj, Lauren Tien, Krystal Ramos Barrera, Julie Scholes, and Jackson Bressor. (Not pictured: Molly Greenblat)
Five teams of Larner College of Medicine Class of 2026 medical students and the first-ever joint Larner-Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth team have been selected to participate as 2023-24 Schweitzer Fellows through the New Hampshire/Vermont (NH/VT) Schweitzer Fellows Program
. As fellows, they will spend hundreds of hours over the next year completing their projects, which focus on addressing existing health disparities throughout the region in solidarity with community partners.
Founded in 1996, the NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows Program is one of thirteen currently active Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
(ASF) program sites across the U.S. and is dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows are chosen competitively from graduate health professional and law student applicants enrolled at institutions in New Hampshire and Vermont.
ASF immerses a diverse group of graduate students in a mentored experiential learning and leadership development program designed to increase their skills and commitment to more effectively address the health needs of underserved people. While continuing their graduate studies, Schweitzer Fellows are required to design, implement, evaluate and plan for the sustainability of community-based prevention and intervention projects that address the social determinants of health.
During the past 27 years, well over 200 Larner students have completed more than 26,000 hours of service working with regional community partners as NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows.
The following medical Class of 2026 members and projects were selected for the 2023-24 year:
- Thuymy-Michelle Nguyen is partnering with Outright Vermont on a project titled “Improving Resilience and Health Literacy in Vermont’s Gender-Diverse Youth.” The project aims to address the significant disparities that affect LGBTQ+ youth, especially those who are gender-diverse, and improve their health care. The project involves providing healthcare professionals with online care guides that cover topics ranging from clinical interventions to the legal and insurance-related components of delivering gender-diverse care. They hope to bolster the resources and programming that Outright VT currently offers to empower youth seeking care in Vermont.
- Krystal Ramos is conducting a project titled “Improving Sexual Health Outcomes in Non-English Speaking Migrant Communities of Vermont” in partnership with Bridges to Health. She seeks to improve the sexual health outcomes of non-English-speaking migrant communities by creating free sexual health tools that they can receive through the mail. Krystal is also developing a training module for future healthcare providers and volunteers that addresses the social determinants of health among non-English-speaking migrant populations.
- David (Wais) Makaj and Jackson Bressor are continuing the work of the Spartans Advance program, a 2022-23 Schweitzer Fellows project launched by Class of 2025 medical students Kadi Nguyen and Ellen Mats for students at Winooski Middle High School that included hands-on afterschool workshops focused on different healthcare careers. For this second year of the Spartans Advance: Careers in Healthcare Initiative, Wais and Jackson aim to address the socio-economic gap in access to healthcare career and education information. They will provide hands-on healthcare skills training to assist students in pursuing their healthcare interests while working to build a long-term partnership between the Larner College of Medicine and Winooski Schools.
- Kimberly Jones and Lauren Tien will be partnering with the Nulhegan Band of the Cooksuk Abenaki Nation and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi for their project titled “Abenaki Health and Outreach.” Working with Vermont's Abenaki communities to improve Abenaki health and promote workforce development, they will hold clinics that focus on screening for chronic health problems and introduce health career opportunities to Abenaki youth as part of a larger effort to improve trust between the Abenaki tribe and the University of Vermont.
- Molly Greenblat and Julianne Scholes will be conducting a project on “Expanding the Transgender Healthcare Network in Vermont” in collaboration with the Pride Center of Vermont. Their project seeks to identify and strengthen the network of clinics and providers that offer gender-affirming care throughout Vermont. In collaboration with community members, they will create guides to ease the process of seeking and receiving care, and support providers in recognizing and overcoming barriers to delivering high-quality healthcare.
- Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth student Ila Kaul and Larner medical student Katie Waeldner are developing a platform that anonymously and sensitively documents each survivor's experience of trauma recovery with SafeArt, a free healing arts program based in Chelsea, Vermont. They aim to use this storytelling initiative as a resource to directly voice the needs of survivors in the program and to serve as a new method of personal reflection for each survivor.
Following their initial year of service, Fellows become “Fellows for Life” and then join a group of professionals united by a common experience during graduate training and a common commitment to continue serving vulnerable populations through their work and service, thereby perpetuating the legacy and philosophy of famed physician-humanitarian and 1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
Molly Rideout, M.D., professor of pediatrics, serves as faculty leader for the Larner Schweitzer Fellows program, with assistance from Tim Lahey, M.D., M.M.Sc., professor of medicine and director of medical ethics at UVM Medical Center. Both Rideout and Lahey are Fellows for Life. Nancy Gabriel, M.A., is the NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows program director.