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First Health 4 America fellows celebrate completion

Mary Anna Weklar fellow chats with Judith Prochaska PhD, MPH associate professor at the Stanford Health 4 America Certificate Awards Ceremony on August 28, 2014. ( Norbert von der Groeben/ Stanford School of Medicine )What brings together an Alaskan native, a yoga teacher, two lawyers, a drug developer, a pediatrician, a former Peace Corps volunteer and ten others? The Stanford Health 4 America program.

This nine-month fellowship program popped out its first cohort of fellows last week, a set of 17 folks ranging from “senior” to recent grad and they’re aiming to shake up the field of medicine. For any skeptics out there, these folks are the real deal: They strutted their know-how at a poster-session/graduation ceremony this week, and the topics featured real research that took Stanford expertise into the community.

“They really want to change the world,” Christopher Gardner, PhD, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and a professor of medicine told me. “I thought, ‘I can’t just teach them the same old thing. I have to really teach them something that is out of the box.’”

The program meets for “30 Thursdays” as director Sonoo Thadaney, MBA, likes to say. The fellows split their time between course work and hands-on community internships. Fellow Reynold Lewke, JD, MBA, guided Redwood City youth on safe biking routes while hooking them on mobile exercise tracking tools. Fellow Drea Burbank, MD, scoured the database of an online medical website to examine the correlation between questions about e-cigarettes and doctors’ answers. Fellow Diana Delgadillo, who commuted all the way from Bakersfield to attend the program, helped a group of low-income Hispanic women develop healthy-eating behaviors. Some of these projects are ongoing, and you’ll surely be hearing about them, and the fellows behind them, in the future.

The program itself has big plans, including a name change to Stanford Health 4 All to reflect its global focus, Thadaney said. In addition, the program is working to expand to offer a master’s degree, a PhD minor, an undergraduate minor and a medical school concentration. It’s taking applications for the 2015-2016 cohort on its website now.

Becky Bach is a former park ranger who now spends her time writing, exploring, or practicing yoga. She’s currently a science writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs.

Previously: Stanford Health 4 America kicks off
Photo, of Fellow Mary Anna Weklar talking with Judith Prochaska, PhD, MPH, by Norbert von der Groeben

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