USC Students Awarded Prestigious Schweitzer Fellowships

Picture of Dr. SchweitzerThis year, Joy Yue Wang and Amanda Wong of the School of Pharmacy and Patricia Martinez of the Keck School of Medicine were among the only 250 recipients from across the U.S. to be granted a 2012-13 Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

The fellowships are given to graduate students in the fields of medicine, public health and pharmacy who are committed to serving their local community.

Wang, who is pursuing a PharmD degree, will use her funding to start a 12-week smoking cessation program, designed to help people quit through physiological and behavioral modification. The program will consist of education about smoking-related health risks, coping strategies, nicotine replacement therapy, as well as individualized counseling.
“The Schweitzer Fellowship encourages fellows to explore avenues to sustain our projects beyond our time as fellows,” says Wang. “I think that it is very exciting to have the opportunity to start something new for our community and see its growth and impact throughout the years.”

Wang’s program will be offered at a local safety-net clinic, where it will reach those who are typically without access to this kind of kind of service. Her faculty advisors on the project are Drs. Steven Chen and Edith Mirzaian.
Amanda Wong, who is also a PharmD candidate, will use the funding to promote medication adherence and health education to the blind and visually impaired community at the Braille Institute – Los Angeles Center. Pharmacists and pharmacy students will provide medication counseling and educational sessions, using novel tools and materials in Braille type that will be created for this Los Angeles population.

“I’m excited to establish a brand new partnership with the Braille Institute, while also providing opportunities for our pharmacists and students to serve in unique patient care situations,” says Wong.

This is the first project of its kind to work with the Braille Institute, where most people are elderly and often suffer from multiple health conditions, in addition to loss of sight, making medication adherence a very challenging issue. Wong’s faculty advisors are Drs. Bradley Williams and Steven Chen.

The 2012-13 recipients also include Patricia Martinez of the Keck School of Medicine, who will be using the funding towards a project that will pair a motivated first- or second-year medical student with a community clinic patient living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes. The project aims to explore how patients live with their illness and how they navigate the medical system, hoping that this understanding will better prepare the students to help the patient understand their illness and ultimately improve adherence to medical plans and therapies.

“I hope the project can both educate and empower the patients involved in this project, and also prepare future physicians to be more culturally sensitive, and therefore better advocates for their patients,” explains Martinez.

The nationwide Schweitzer Fellowship is given to 15 graduate students in the Los Angeles area every year. This marks the third year in a row that students from the School of Pharmacy have been recognized, with a fellowship last year going to PharmD candidate Ashlee Klevens.

Upon completion of their initial year as fellows, Wang, Wong and Martinez will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life, joining a network of over 2,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in and committed to addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.

Caption: Schweitzer Fellows Amanda Wong, Joy Yue Wang and Patricia Martinez.