A Prescription for Mentoring
Building on existing programs which employ college students as advocates for patients in the healthcare system, create a program leveraging the same group of students, who can become advocates for seniors in accessing opportunities for mentoring in all of it's many forms.
How would you describe your idea in one sentence?
An opportunity to leverage an existing program, building on it to offer a "prescription for mentoring" from a doctor to a "senior" patient, employing college student volunteers as advocates to help seniors actually carry it out.
A PRESCRIPTION FOR MENTORING
HealthLeads is an organization that assists physicians care
for their patients. It enlists college students as advocates who assist patients to find solutions for basic services and needs, which include access to affordable and safe housing, food security, and heat. Recognizing these needs as vital to the health of patients physicians write "prescriptions" for these services. The college students then work towards carrying them out, side by side with patients at the point of service, the clinic sites.
Students receive training prior to starting their service. They make a time commitment to be included in the program.
from their website -
"Health Leads Advocates then work side by side with patients to navigate the complexity of the resource landscape – including tracking down phone numbers, printing maps, securing transportation, and completing applications. The Advocates follow up with patients regularly by phone, email, or during clinic visits. Relationships may be long-term or short-term based on patients’ needs and preferences."
This IDEA is to build on this existing organization, or one like it, which already employs a workforce of college student volunteers that work with patients of all ages. What if we can piggyback onto this existing program
focusing on mentoring services specifically for adults 50+.
BUILD A BRANCH which will:
Focus on including a "prescription to access mentoring services" for
"senior" patients that visit their physician. Mentoring as we have learned on this challenge has so many positive effects. It can be vital to the continued development and health - mental and physical - of seniors, as well as enriching the lives of youth. Bidirectional mentoring can also be included as a service. (see below) The college students can assist in accessing programs that will fulfill the needs of each senior, as they interview them at point of service for their health care. Include services as described in the above quote which will help seniors navigate the path to finding and receiving mentoring opportunities. Include a follow up system which will serve to build connections between the student and the senior over time.
2 - Enlist a further group of college students as Mentors. Use the "prescription" as a referral to this group where one can be
matched to an individual mentor based on individual needs - or on the needs of both mentor and mentee.
The woman who started HealthLeads, Rebecca Onie, did it as a service project while she was a college student, in collaboration with Dr. Barry Zuckerman at Boston City Hospital. She received a MacArthur Fellowship, 2009, for her innovative work, Project Health. I recall reading about it at the time. As a pediatrician who has worked in underserved communities, in hospitals just like Boston City Hospital, I remember thinking - Thank You! - this filled such a void. We often did this work ourselves, squeezing it into patient visits, utilizing patients themselves as resources for what was available as services within their communities, which we then shared with other patients/families. Project Health brought much to the lives of college students as well, fulfilling aspirations, bringing them personal experiences with citizens in their communities, building empathy, creating foundations for future career choices etc. etc.
I think HealthLeads may be a program for AARP Foundation and MentorUp to investigate as inspiration and/or connection.