When the Patient Becomes the Teacher: Jefferson University’s Health Mentors Program





Whether to become a nurse, therapist, pharmacist, or physician, students dedicate upwards of 15 years learning their profession, with countless hours spent studying topics like anatomy, pharmacology, and chemistry. But what about empathy? Jefferson University created the Health Mentors Program to teach future caregivers what it’s like to experience the other side of healthcare. Health mentors—dedicated volunteers with chronic conditions such as diabetes, visual impairment, or limited mobility—meet regularly with teams of students to help them learn everything about medicine not found in a textbook. Patient Safety Managing Editor, Caitlyn Allen, sat down with, program directors, Drs. Anne Bradley Mitchell and Nethra Ankam, and faculty support Dr. Brooke Salzman to learn more.

Author Biographies

Anne Bradley Mitchell, PhD, ANP-BC, Jefferson Health

Anne Bradley Mitchell teaches in the undergraduate program in the Jefferson College of Nursing. She has been the faculty co-lead for the Jefferson Health Mentors Program for the past four years.

Nethra Ankam, MD, Jefferson Health

Nethra Ankam is an associate professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Jefferson Health. She currently serves as co-faculty lead for the Jefferson Health Mentors Program and the Wellness Thread director for JeffMD.

Brooke Salzman, MD, Jefferson Health

Brooke Salzman is a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care. She serves as the associate provost of Interprofessional Practice and Education at Thomas Jefferson University and co-director of the Jefferson Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

Caitlyn Allen, MPH, Patient Safety Authority

Caitlyn Allen (caiallen@pa.gov) is director of Engagement for the Patient Safety Authority and managing editor for Patient Safety, the PSA’s peer-reviewed journal. Before joining the PSA, she was the project manager for Patient Safety at Jefferson Health, where she also was the only nonphysician elected to serve on the House Staff Quality and Safety Leadership Council.

Elderly man sitting in wheelchair.



How to Cite

Bradley Mitchell, A., Ankam, N., Salzman, B., & Allen, C. (2022). When the Patient Becomes the Teacher: Jefferson University’s Health Mentors Program. Patient Safety, 4(1), 78–85. https://doi.org/10.33940/culture/2022.3.7
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