July 11, 2017
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry Periodontics Resident Dr. Elizabeth Kaminsky was named an Albert Schweitzer Fellow for the 2017-18 year.
Dr. Kaminsky earned her fellowship through the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program, a chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and through the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, an independent policy center that conducts research, educates, and collaborates with other groups to advocate policies and impact health systems to improve the health status of all people.
Schweitzer Fellows spend a year working to address barriers impacting the health of underserved communities and develop lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer, for whom the fellowship is named.
“The Schweitzer Fellowship program is an extraordinary opportunity for students and residents to engage in service projects and set the stage for a service-oriented career,” said Dr. Caswell Evans, Associate Dean for Prevention and Public Health Sciences. “Fellows understand the need to extend access to care and respond to the health challenges faced by the whole community. We are proud of the record of achievement by our Schweitzer Fellows. Elizabeth Kaminsky is continuing that record.”
“I chose to apply for the Schweitzer Fellowship because I believe holistic care, interdisciplinary teamwork, and community outreach should be the foundation of dental medicine,” Dr. Kaminsky said. “Becoming a Schweitzer Fellow will help me reach these goals as a future dentist and healthcare provider.”
She noted that her Schweitzer project “involves increasing dental education and access to dental care for an at-risk, underserved community on Chicago’s North Side.”
Dr. Kaminsky is working at the Broadway Youth Center (BYC), a branch of Howard Brown Health.
“BYC is a safe space for LGBTQ youth ages 12-to-24 who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability,” Dr. Kaminsky explained.
BYC offers low-cost and free services such as medical, social, and mental health care along with resource advocacy (ID replacement, housing referrals, and food stamp and job application assistance), education opportunities (a GED program, tutoring, and scholarship assistance), and drop-in services (such as food, clothing, youth-led programming, and leadership opportunities).
“I am seeing youth for dental screenings and education sessions to improve dental knowledge and help them access dental treatment at UIC,” Dr. Kaminsky said.
“I hope to increase awareness about the importance of dental care as a component of the overall systemic health of the youths,” she continued. “I also hope to create a partnership between BYC and UIC so that a dental referral system will be in place for future years.”
Dr. Kaminsky noted that she is working closely with her UIC Schweitzer mentor, Dr. Colin Haley, Clinical Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, to make the referral system possible.
“Any time we as a dental profession can increase knowledge about what we do and why it is important, we help ourselves by erasing misconceptions and decreasing barriers to care,” Dr. Kaminsky said. “By expanding the network that we serve, we can help local community members who otherwise have no dental home.”
Dr. Kaminsky is one of two current Schweitzer Fellows at the College. The other is student Joseph Deek.
Since the 2006-07 year, the College has had 16 students or residents serve as Schweitzer Fellows.
“In the face of ongoing uncertainty in our health care system and increased threats to the services our most vulnerable residents rely on, the role of our Schweitzer Fellows as ambassadors of hope is more important than ever,” said Dr. Arthur Kohrman, Chair of the Schweitzer Fellowship Advisory Council and a board member at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group.
Dr. Kaminsky noted that additional volunteers at BYC always are welcome. For more information, log on to https://howardbrown.org/byc/.