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Buddy Program for Medical Students

A "buddy" program that pairs young medical students with dementia patients.

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This "buddy" program was pioneered at Northwestern University and adopted by a handful of other medical schools. Besides offering students a unique perspective on a disease they might focus on in their careers, the program gives patients a sense of purpose and a chance to stay socially engaged before their illness eventually robs them of their minds. The programs helps erase the stigma of dementia and Alzheimer's disease and are laudable for introducing students to medical opportunities related to aging and dementia.

The program began as a way to empower Alzheimer’s patients, putting them in a position to help medical students. But a presentation at the Alzheimer’s Assn. International Conference 2013 in Boston shows that the medical students are gaining from the experience, too. It improves students’ knowledge and familiarity with Alzheimer’s, and it heightens their sensitivity and empathy toward people with the disease.

Are there opportunities within existing programs (similar to this one) to leverage the mentor/buddy model and solve for the needs of both young people and elders?

Mentoring is often seen as an "additional" effort versus being core to what one is trying to achieve and I like this example which stretches the idea of mentoring and also makes it an integral part of the younger person's education.

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