Join Over 4,000 Fellows For Life

Schweitzer Fellows for Life form a powerful alumni network that extends the impact and influence on community and clinical health in the United States and across the globe. They are committed to creating systemic change in health care services and policies that will promote health equity and treat all people with dignity and compassion.

Become a Schweitzer Fellow

The NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is a one-year interdisciplinary, mentored fellowship program focused on health-related community service and leadership development. The mission of the US Schweitzer Fellows program is to prepare the next generation of professionals to serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities. To accomplish this, the Fellows learn how to:

  • Use their skills and knowledge in real-life situations;
  • Practice culturally sensitive and compassionate care;
  • Address the impact of social and environmental determinants of health;
  • Build capacity for and commitment to improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities as well as contribute to social change;
  • Understand the importance of interdisciplinary team approaches to care;
  • Exercise leadership skills to work with and influence community-based organizations, community leaders, and academic institutions to embrace holistic, service-oriented approaches to health.

Upon successful competition of the initial Fellowship year, Fellows become part of an alumni network of Fellows for Life – an interdisciplinary pipeline of professionals who are dedicated to and skilled in meeting the health needs of vulnerable communities.

Schweitzer Fellows focus on health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Rooted in this holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health-defined by the WHO as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and which are mostly responsible for health inequities.

Students enrolled in a NC degree-granting graduate program in a health professional field may apply. Past Fellows have been students in such fields as dentistry, education, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work. Applicants must be enrolled throughout the Fellowship year (April 2021-May 2022).  Applicants scheduled for a December graduation should contact the Program Director to determine if they are eligible for a waiver to this requirement.

Prospective Fellows should be prepared to design a community service project (in partnership with a local community agency) that seeks to provide direct service to an underserved population while eliminating health disparities and improving their quality of life.
The project should:

  • Provide a direct service that meets a community defined need and reflects national and local health priorities. Interested students should investigate and reflect on the unmet health-related needs that exist in the state and on the ways in which their own energies and talents might contribute to ameliorating one or more of these problems. Applicants are to collaborate with potential community partners prior to submitting their applications and to be as specific as possible in their proposals about their relationships with the community partners.
  • Think about the impact you want your project to have on the targeted population, i.e., what kind of behavior change or change in condition do you wish to see. Think about what your definition of success might look like and how you would verify if this has been achieved.
  • Be of enduring value to the community/agency served. The project proposal should include a brief discussion about sustainability of the project at the end of the Fellowship year.

Applicants are to identify one or more potential academic mentors at their schools and site mentors at the agencies where they propose to conduct their projects.  For more information about the roles of academic and site mentors, please download by clicking on the links provided.

Applicants should be creative in developing their proposals. They may choose to design a totally unique project in keeping with Dr. Schweitzer’s directive that everyone should find their own Lambaréné–their own special place to serve, and way of serving. Alternatively, applicants may find inspiration in reviewing past Fellows’ projects and partnering agencies.

Applicants should keep in mind that they may utilize their unique experience and expertise to expand upon a past Schweitzer project, but should not simply duplicate or continue one that has been carried out previously. Research, fundraising, and policy-based projects are not considered eligible for a Schweitzer Fellowship.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Program Director as early as possible to discuss project ideas and potential sites.

If you plan to do a joint project with another graduate student, you must be certain that your application reflects the fact that this project is large enough to require the participation of two Fellows. If accepted, each Fellow splits the stipend and hours requirements listed below. In describing your project, you should indicate the particular attributes that each of you brings to the project. Note that there are separate applications for individual and partnered projects. Please complete the one that fits your situation.

In the event public health guidelines do not permit in person events, events will be held virtually.

Service Project:  Fellows design and carry out a health-related direct service project of at least 200 hours in collaboration with a local community agency under the leadership of a site supervisor and academic mentor of the student’s choice. The 200 hours is separate from any school course requirement. Fellows who conduct a paired project split the hours and the stipend proportionately.

Retreats: Fellows attend an overnight orientation April 10-11, 2021 in Davidson, NC which is a mandatory requirement. Fellows attend two in person half-day retreats and virtual webinars throughout the year. Partners in a paired project are both required to be present at all the events.

Celebration of Service: Fellows attend a Celebration of Service Luncheon honoring current Fellows and introducing new Fellows April 18, 2021 in Raleigh. Fellows also attend the event in March/April 2022. Partners in paired projects are both required to be present at the events.

Reports & Evaluations:  Fellows submit monthly one-page reports and reflections about their activities; a written final report; a 2-minute video summarizing their project; and an evaluation about the Fellowship experience. Fellows also need to develop a verification strategy into their project design to determine if their project is successful and on target in meeting goals.

Recruitment: In the fall of 2021, Fellows organize an information session on their Fellowship experience at their school.

Op-Ed: Fellows are required to write an op-ed article to hone their skills as a health care advocate for vulnerable populations.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an information session before completing an application and contact the Program Director to get feedback on their proposal. Contact the Program Director for the date of the session at your university.

Upcoming Sessions

no event

Interviews will be conducted February 19 in Davidson and February 20 in Chapel Hill.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2021, 5pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is an interdisciplinary program and diversity of thought and perspectives will enrich the experience for each class of Fellows. In addition to medicine, past Fellows have been students in such fields as dentistry, education, law, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, divinity, psychology, pharmacy, engineering, business, the arts and more.  We think expansively about health and realize that there are so many factors that contribute to the health and well-being of our communities.

Schweitzer Fellows focus on health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Rooted in this holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health—defined by the WHO as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and which are mostly responsible for health inequities.  The options are broad to allow your interests and creativity to lead you to a project that will have impact.

Take a look at U.S. Fellows page on the national website, and click any of the cities listed, then “Fellows & Projects,” and read the project descriptions. The Beyond Boulders blog is another great resource for reading more about current and past Schweitzer projects.

“Underserved” is any group that is at risk for or is experiencing compromised health or physical, social, or well-being. Any group of people that you can conceive of who has difficulty receiving quality health care and other needs that impact their health and wellbeing could be considered underserved.

“Direct service” means working directly with any group that is at risk for or is experiencing compromised health.

You can complete your 200 hours of service during the Fellowship year that fits your academic schedule. The 50 hours of planning time can begin once you are awarded the Fellowship. The 150 direct service hours can begin once you have a project description form approved by the Fellowship, the community supervisor and the academic mentor. Some Fellows complete all of their direct service hours over several months and some spread them out over the entire year.  It is up to you and what your project entails. We do encourage spreading the hours as much as possible to have enough time to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks or delays.

Yes, paired Fellows split the stipend and the hours proportionately. If you partner with another student, you both have to fulfill all the program requirements and participate in all of the fellowship activities.

Yes, the orientation is a firm requirement.  If you already know you cannot make it, please do not apply for the Fellowship.  

A hallmark of the Schweitzer Fellows Program is the regular contact with other Fellows. In addition to the orientation retreat, all Fellows are required to attend the Celebration of Service Luncheon at the beginning and the end of the year, and two meetings in the Triangle (August/September and November).

We view the Fellowship experience as an important opportunity for learning, whether someone has already done a lot of community work or very little. Experience is not a requirement for the Fellowship, but in your personal statement we’d like for you to explain how your background and skills have helped prepare you to do community outreach work, and what motivates you to make such a serious commitment.  The Program’s mentors and Program staff provide ample support to Fellows so that everyone who is passionate about providing service can do so.

No, we do not allow Fellows to use their Schweitzer project for credit within their curriculum.  The Fellowship is really meant to be an added component to your educational experience that enables you to develop your abilities as a leader in community service.  The Fellowship is an opportunity to complete a service project and to become part of a community of Fellows who are dedicated to similar work and hold similar values. Although it may take a lot of time to participate in both the Fellowship and your school internship or practicum, it is a very enriching and rewarding experience to be part of the Fellowship separate from your academic requirements. It’s your opportunity to follow your passion.