UW News

March 12, 2009

First nursing student receives Schweitzer Public Health Fellowship

UW School of Nursing doctoral student Carey McCarthy has been has been named one of this year’s three Lambarene Schweitzer Public Health Fellows by The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. This marks the first time that a nurse has been selected as a fellow for the organization, which has been sending students to Gabon, Africa, since 1979.

McCarthy, a first-year doctoral student, is planning to study nurse migration and global health workforce issues. She is also interested in working to strengthen nursing infrastructure and leadership capacity in lesser developed countries. As a fellow, she will go to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon for three months this summer to work with the hospital’s Community Health Outreach Program, which provides village-based health care, including maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, tuberculosis education and follow-up, and malaria prevention and treatment.

“The Albert Schweitzer philosophy of ‘reverence for life’ really resonates with me,” she said. “I think every person, no matter where they happen to live, deserves reverence, respect and access to health care and services.”

No stranger to international health experiences, McCarthy has traveled and worked in more than 30 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Azerbaijan, as well as several countries in South America. From 2007 to 2008, she worked with HIV/AIDS patients in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo with Doctors Without Borders. McCarthy received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a master’s in public health (MPH) from Johns Hopkins University in 2005.

McCarthy was first drawn to nursing following a summer experience working with street children in Bolivia. After working internationally as a nurse, McCarthy wanted to make a larger difference than on the clinical scale, which motivated her to return to school to receive her MPH, focusing in global health.

“I want to study and work in global health because I can’t accept the huge health disparities that exist between countries — I want to do something to address them,” she said.

Founded in the United States in 1940, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship was created to support Dr. Schweitzer’s medical work in Africa during World War II. Since Schweitzer’s death in 1965, the Fellowship has continued to provide direct assistance to the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, and, and more recently, to underserved communities within the U.S.

Each year since 1979, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has selected four third-year medical students to spend three months working as Fellows at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, on clinical rotations. Beginning in 2007, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship began sending up to two public health fellows each year, students or recent graduates with significant public health training and/or experience.

For more information about The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, visit: http://www.schweitzerfellowship.org/features/lamb/.