Medical student named in inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows

April 1, 2016

A medical student who will receive his clinical education at the College of Community Health Sciences is part of the inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows, a group of graduate students across the state selected to spend a year on a community service project to address chronic health problems. David Osula, a first-year student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, is developing the Academy of Health Sciences Mentoring Program for inner-city high school students in Birmingham interested in health care careers. Osula will receive his third and fourth years of clinical education at the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus, which is located at the College. The Academy of Health Sciences is run by Birmingham City Schools and hosted at Carver High School. It allows high school students to job shadow and visit hospitals to learn about health care professions, and to take courses and learn skills to prepare them for a career in health care. Many School of Medicine students were already working with the Academy, Osula says. “We are involved in several aspects already, including volunteering to teach a few classes, ACT Tutoring, and now, mentoring.” Osula saw the existing bond between the high school students and medical students as an opportunity to develop a structured mentoring program. After four years of working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Osula says he has seen the impact mentorships can have on both the mentee and mentor. With his project, Osula will serve as mentorship coordinator. He will design the program, run a short pilot and implement it in the fall. The Alabama Schweitzer Chapter was founded in 2015. Many chapters are established across the United States. The first class of fellows is made up of 16 graduate students from across the state who were selected from applicants in a variety of graduate programs, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, education, social work, law and the arts, according to the chapter’s website. Projects address chronic health issues in the state and their root causes, like poverty, the environment and education. Osula says his mentoring program will positively impact the students of Carver High school, and they will, in turn, go on to positively impact Alabama health care. “We, the medical students, are here to supplement their experience and provide new perspective. And soon, we will also be there to provide mentoring, encouragement and advice on how to be successful in their future careers,” he says. “By showing these students our ‘reverence for life’ as Albert Schweitzer so aptly did, we hope they carry on the torch and show a reverence for the lives they encounter in the future.”