Become a Schweitzer Fellow

Recruitment for the 2021-22 Fellowship is underway. Scroll down for details about upcoming information sessions.   

The New Orleans Schweitzer Fellows Program is an interdisciplinary, mentored fellowship program focused on health-related community service and leadership development. The mission of the U.S. 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, Schweitzer Fellows:

  • Use their skills and knowledge to develop entrepreneurial solutions to real-life problems;
  • Engage with communities using cultural humility;
  • Increase their understanding of the impact of social and environmental determinants of health;
  • Build capacity for and commitment to improving the health status of individuals and communities and contribute to social change;
  • Work collaboratively and across disciplines in pursuit of a common goal;
  • Develop resiliency by learning how to care for yourself while serving others.

If you want to exercise leadership skills while working with community-based organizations and academic institutions to create sustainable change, then this program is for you!

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

Prior to applying for the Fellowship, applicants are strongly encouraged to attend a virtual information session to learn more about the program. 

You are also welcome to contact the Program Director for additional information about the Fellowship.   

Students enrolled in a graduate or professional degree-granting program from any accredited academic institution in the Greater New Orleans area may apply. While the applicant’s field of study does not have to be traditionally health-related, his/her proposed service project must focus on health and/or the social determinants of health. Past Fellows have addressed health from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines including, but not limited to, dentistry, education, engineering, law, medicine, music, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, and social work. Applicants must be enrolled throughout the Fellowship year (next cohort April 2021 – April 2022).  Applicants scheduled for a December graduation should contact the Program Director to determine if they are eligible for a waiver to this requirement.

  • Orientation Retreat: Fellows attend an overnight Orientation, scheduled for the morning of Saturday, May 15 through noon on Sunday, May 16, 2021.
  • Service Project: Working in collaboration with a local community agency, each Fellow will design and carry out a service project of at least 200 hours that addresses an unmet community health need. Each Fellow will work under the supervision of a Site Mentor from the participating agency and an Academic Mentor of the student’s choice from the student’s current academic institution. The Program Director is available to provide support and guidance throughout the Fellowship year. The 200 project hours must be conducted separately from any academic course requirement. Monthly meetings and other Fellowship programming/reports are not part of the required 200 hours. At least half of the 200 hours must be spent in direct, face-to-face contact with the population being served. These direct service hours do not include administrative duties or research. In designing a project, applicants should carefully consider the issues of evaluation and sustainability and include their ideas for addressing these aspects of the project.
  • Monthly Meetings: Monthly meetings provide the Fellows with leadership development, skills-based workshops, interdisciplinary discussions, time for reflection on community service, and an opportunity to network with like-minded students from diverse fields as well as professionals in areas of interest to them. With the assistance of the Program Director, each Fellows takes the lead for planning and facilitating a monthly meeting during the Fellowship year. Meetings are typically held the last Sunday of the month for two hours in the evening.
  • Reports: Fellows submit monthly reports about their activities and a comprehensive written final report to their Program Director, Academic Mentor, and Site Mentor.
  • Midyear Retreat: Fellows attend a half-day retreat during the middle of their Fellowship year (typically at Saturday in October)  focused on balancing personal and professional demands and project sustainability. 
  • Evaluation: Fellows are required to complete a pre- and post- survey for the Fellowship (the pre-survey must be completed prior to attending Orientation and the post-survey must be completed within 30 days of the end of the Fellowship year). Each Fellow’s Site Mentor also must complete a final site mentor survey.  These surveys are in addition to each Fellow’s evaluation plan for his/her individual project.
  • Public Outreach: Fellows work together in groups to organize one or more public outreach activities that may take the form of public symposia and/or group service activities.
  • Recruitment: In the fall of each year, Fellows work with the Program Director to organize information sessions about the Schweitzer Fellows Program and present information at their schools about their Fellowship experiences.
  • Celebration of Service: New Fellows are introduced at this event, typically held in April. At the end of the Fellowship year, we honor the outgoing cohort of Fellows who speak about their projects’ goals and accomplishments. 

Prospective Fellows should be prepared to partner with a local community agency to design a community service project that seeks to provide direct service to an underserved population. 

Projects should: 

  • Focus on improving health and/or the social determinants of health in an underserved population. 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.
  • Provide a direct service that meets a community-defined need and reflects national and local health priorities, such as Healthy People 2030. Prospective applicants should investigate and reflect on unmet local health-related needs, and think through the ways in which their own energies and talents might contribute, even in small ways, to ameliorating one or more of these problems. Applicants are encouraged to communicate with potential community partners prior to submitting their applications and to be specific in their proposals about their relationships with their community partners.
  • 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 should be creative in developing their proposal. They may choose to develop 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 by reviewing project descriptions for current or past FellowsApplicants 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. 

Site Mentor

  • Prior to applying, applicants are encouraged to identify a prospective site mentor at the agency where they propose to conduct their project. 
  • Site Mentor responsibilities include: assist the Fellow with shaping the initial project plan, attend a one-hour orientation for mentors at the beginning of the Fellowship year, orient the Fellow to the partner organization, review the Fellow’s monthly reflections, meet with the Fellow as needed and provide practical guidance on project implementation, support the Fellow’s ongoing personal & professional development, attend the Celebration of Service, and complete a site mentor survey at the conclusion of the Fellowship year.

Academic Mentor:

  • Prior to applying, applicants are also encouraged to identify an academic mentor at their university.
  • Academic Mentor responsibilities include: assist the Fellow with shaping the initial project plan, attend a one-hour orientation for mentors at the beginning of the Fellowship year, assist the Fellow with the IRB process if needed/desired, review the Fellow’s monthly reflections, meet with the Fellow as needed and provide practical guidance on project implementation, support the Fellow’s ongoing personal & professional development, and attend the Celebration of Service at the conclusion of the Fellowship year. 


If you would like to request assistance with developing a project proposal or identifying a community partner agency, site mentor, and/or an academic mentor, please contact the Program Director.  


Application Deadline: February 1, 2021

Virtual Interviews: February 23 & 24