Diabetes Mentoring Program Proposed

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Have you ever wished you had a “diabetes mentor”—someone who had experience living with diabetes and could help guide you through the learning process? Or perhaps you wish that you could put your accumulated expertise with diabetes to work helping someone who is recently diagnosed or has questions. If so, you may be interested in a soon-to-be-launched diabetes mentoring program called “Peers for Progress.”

The program is being created by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation with a $15-million, 5-year grant from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. It will identify and train volunteers who have diabetes—laypersons, not health-care professionals—to be certified “Diabetes Mentors,” who will then help other people with diabetes manage their daily self-care tasks as well as deal with the emotional and social demands of living with diabetes.

The program’s goal is to train 200,000 people, or 1% of Americans living with diabetes, to become Diabetes Mentors, and eventually to expand globally and train 2 million mentors worldwide by 2020. In addition to bridging the gap between the health-care system and people with diabetes, Diabetes Mentors will ultimately train some of their “mentees” to become mentors as well.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, the Peers for Progress program will seek to employ a new, empowering, community-based approach to combating diabetes. Through role-modeling, mentoring, and peer-to-peer interactions, mentors will aim to bring about behavioral changes in people with diabetes that lead to better long-term health outcomes.

More information about how to get involved in the Peers for Progress program will be available later this year; the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation is planning to launch a Web site for the program by late fall, and a small pilot mentoring project will kick off in 2008. The foundation hopes to have the full project underway by late 2008 or early 2009. The Diabetes Self-Management Blog will feature more information about how you can get involved with the program when it becomes available.

In the meantime, you may want to check out diabetes blogger David Mendosa’s blog entry “M is for Mentoring” which contains tips and advice about diabetes mentoring and explains how you can become a “virtual mentor” or “virtual mentee” on the Internet.

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