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Peer Mentoring Program

"Helping others overcome the challenges of renal failure
through empathy and experience."

For More Information Contact . . .

Why Peer Mentoring?

No matter how close you are to friends or how much you trust your medical team, nothing beats talking with someone who has "walked in your shoes."

"With just a few words from the doctor, I suddenly was faced with the pain and fear of dialysis and deteriorating health. My first reaction was to shut down. Would I live or die? If I lived, would living be worthwhile? I needed information and people to talk to who knew what they were talking about." -- Nate Steed (Volunteer - Peer Mentor Program)

History of Peer Mentoring?

In 1980, a high school counselor, who had been on dialysis for 8 years at the University of Michigan Health System, told social work that he wanted to make himself available to fellow patients to help them deal with the many confusing emotions accompanying renal disease.

A peer mentoring training program was located; this patient was trained; and patients and staff found his work invaluable.

Since then, over 300 renal patients, spouses, and adult children have trained to volunteer their time helping others face life with kidney failure. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan now provides 8 hours of rigorous training and this program has proliferated throughout Michigan and the country.

What do Peer Mentors Do?

The Peer Mentoring Program, in conjunction with the medical team, is designed to empower patients with renal disease to take control of their lives and their health care. Some of the roles they play are to:

  • Role model
  • Share information
  • Provide empathic listening
  • Help clarify values
  • Aid in problem solving skill development
  • Help relieve anxiety
  • Legitimize feelings

Peer Mentors help patients face issues of disease, self-management with difficult treatment regimens, death and dying, grieving and sexuality, to name a few. They help patients think through alternatives, cope with depression and anger that are natural to the process. They are positive role models who provide hope, encouragement and understanding.

They also have been advocates in Lansing for prioritizing prevention as well as providing prevention services in their communities by educating others about the importance of living healthy lives to avoid high blood pressure and diabetes, the leading causes of kidney failure.

Peer Mentors

Nicole Bryant
Nicole Bryant - Nikki recently formed a monthly peer mentor meeting for Washtenaw county peers to meet and talk about their volunteer work including problems that come up and strategies. Nikki visits young people facing kidney failure and role models that there is life beyond kidney failure. Nikki starred in the local cablevision series "Tackling the African American Health Care Crisis," which is still showing on channel 19 and won the national Philo T. Farnsworth award in 2005.

Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell - Mike, a Native American, had a kidney/pancreas transplant and is committed to prevention of kidney disease within his community. He starts the Brighton Kidney Walk with a talk about the disproportionate number of people of color with diabetes and kidney failure, and gives the Blessing to the Four Winds to launch the walk.



For more information regarding the Peer Mentoring Program, please contact:

Erica Perry
(734) 222-9800 (National Kidney Foundation of Michigan)
(734) 677-1490 (Ann Arbor Dialysis Unit)


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