Dental Students Named NC Schweitzer Fellows 2019-2020

Five students from East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine are part of the 2019-2020 class of North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows. The students’ projects—which will address long-term social and health problems in the community—range from improving diabetic patients’ access to dental care, to helping uninsured patients find dental care as part of an overall health care plan.

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization and guided by an ECU faculty mentor.

ECU dental student Julianne Yuziuk and medical student Helina Gan plan to create a medical care management system at the James D. Bernstein Dental Clinic in Greenville to help uninsured and underinsured patients find local resources concerning food access, nutrition, mental health, and tobacco use.

I am honored to serve and learn from my community in Greenville through the Schweitzer program,” said J. Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellow Julianne Yuziuk. “I grew up in a rural, underserved town in western North Carolina and knew many people who couldn’t go to the dentist because of reasons completely unrelated to their oral health. I am excited to learn as much as I can from this project and plan to use the skills and knowledge I gain for my patients in my hometown one day.”

Students Monique Duru and Brittanie Height are addressing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and oral manifestations in eastern North Carolina by establishing a referral pipeline from ECU’s Family Medicine Center to the ECU School of Dental Medicine. The program will help educate patients and their primary care providers on the relationship between diabetes and oral health. It will also ensure that patients without a dental home are able to secure one with the ECU School of Dental Medicine.

Students Will Grine and Scarlett Walston are addressing oral health literacy in the children and parents at Head Start campuses in Pitt, Martin, and Beaufort Counties. Their project aims to improve the health literacy of these families as well as establish a permanent dental home through the creation of a referral system to the ECU School of Dental Medicine Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

The students are part of the newest class of 28 North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows selected from North Carolina Universities. They will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health and developing lifelong leadership skills. They will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

“This is a passionate and dedicated group of students who are seeking to improve health care and access to care,” said Barbara Heffner, director of the NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Now more than ever, it is essential that we focus on developing a multidisciplinary pipeline of health professionals who have the dedication, skills, and cultural humility to effectively meet the health needs of underserved people.”

Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so Fellows can inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.

“Many of our Fellows go on to inspiring careers of service to vulnerable individuals and populations.  Our support for them as they learn how to translate their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to actual, enduring impact is crucial to their future effectiveness in working with the underserved,” said Lachlan Forrow, MD, chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “The rapidly-growing network of our alumni – now thousands of ‘Schweitzer Fellows for Life’ working across the country and the world – is already contributing to major improvements in the care of countless people.”

The 28 NC Fellows this year will join approximately 250 other 2019-20 Schweitzer Fellows at program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon, at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,600 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.

The NC Schweitzer Fellowship is funded through the generosity of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Duke University School of Medicine, ECU Brody School of Medicine, NCCU School of Graduate Studies, Pitt County Memorial Hospital University Health Systems of Eastern NC, UNC School of Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and individual donors. Other US-based ASF programs are located in Alabama, Chicago, Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Hampshire/Vermont; New Orleans; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.

2019-20 NC Albert Schweitzer Fellows from the ECU School of Dental Medicine:

ECU School of Dental Medicine
Monique Duru and Brittanie Height
J Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellows
Site: ECU SODM and ECU Family Medicine
Height and Duru are helping diabetic patients manage their disease by providing oral health education and increasing access to dental services.

ECU School of Dental Medicine
Scarlett Walston and William Grine
J Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellows
Site: Food-based Early Education Lab and Head Start
Walston and Grine are improving the nutrition and oral health of the children and families who attend Head Start Programs in Pitt County and the surrounding areas.

ECU School of Dental Medicine and ECU Brody School of Medicine
Julianne Yuziuk and Helina Gan
J Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellows
Site: Bernstein Clinic
Gan and Yuziuk are helping uninsured patients to local service resources as part of their medical care management at the James D. Bernstein Dental Clinic in Greenville.