In early October, I went to the Blusson Centre, a beautiful new medical building in Vancouver that houses the UBC spinal cord injury research centre for the orientation for the UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program.
Way back in the spring, I went for an interview for the program and not long after that I got an email saying I’d been accepted. The way this program works is that future health care practitioners are matched with a Health Mentor who has a chronic illness and/or disability. The program offers students the opportunity for patient-centered learning through working with their mentor for a period of 16 months. This program has been accredited as part of their formal education and includes students from the medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, dietetics and speech and language pathology & audiology.
At the orientation, I finally got to meet the students I will be working with from now until January 2014. I have four lovely young women assigned to me. My students are studying medicine, nursing, dentistry and occupational therapy. In the current program, they’ve matched 200 students with 50 mentors. That’s amazing! My students and I had our first formal session in mid-October and I instantly felt a very positive vibe about how our group was going to mesh. I believe learning is a shared experience and I think this is going to be a great one for all of us.
I am really excited about participating in this program. I’ve been giving interviews to medical students for the past 3 1/2 years about what it’s like to live with MS but it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to have a greater impact on the future of our health care system. Canada has the second highest rate of MS in the world and yet, so many health care professionals don’t know anything about it. This lack of awareness just seems crazy to me so I’ve chosen to become a part of the solution, instead part of the problem. If I have to live with a cruddy, incurable disease, then I am determined that some good has to come of it. Volunteering as a Health Mentor is part of how I am making that happen.
For more information on the UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program, please visit: http://www.chd.ubc.ca/dhcc/healthmentorsTags: awareness, Health Mentors Program, UBC, volunteering