Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
OSU-CHS News > 2014

July 17, 2014

Healthy senior volunteers needed for OSU-COM mentoring program

Second-year medical student Trevor Connor with mentor Raymond Perkins at a luncheon in August.
Second-year medical student Trevor Connor with mentor Raymond Perkins at a luncheon in August.

Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine is seeking healthy adults to volunteer as mentors for students at the Tulsa-based medical school as part of a program designed to enhance the interpersonal skills of the future physicians and promote positive attitudes toward aging.

The Senior Mentor program pairs volunteers age 65 and older with two medical students for a series of interactions that will emulate the development of a doctor-patient relationship.

“Understanding that each patient has a unique perspective on their health care needs is an important part of being a successful physician,” said OSU Center for Health Sciences President Kayse Shrum. “Building relationships is an essential step in establishing trust, which leads to open communication between the doctor and patient and better level of care.”

Mentors will meet with students twice during the semester to discuss issues such as life experiences, medical history, wellness, medications and perspectives on end-of-life care.

“Physicians need to build strong interviewing, listening and conversation skills to effectively communicate with patients,” said Dr. Nancy Van Winkle, professor of behavioral sciences at OSU-CHS. "Both our senior mentors and our medical students have enjoyed their interactions during the first year of our program and learned much from each other.”

The program is part of the Developing the Physician course, a two-year class that includes shadowing non-physician health care providers, service-learning activities, patient simulations and activities that foster an understanding of the patient and the community.  

To volunteer for the Senior Mentor program, contact Lesley Vanvolkinburg at lesley.vanvolkinburg@okstate.edu or 918-582-1972.

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