Contact: Beverly Volpe
Patient Safety Authority PR Representative
609-230-4696 (mobile)


Program at Jefferson University teaches empathy and collaboration to future healthcare providers


Harrisburg, PA – March 17, 2022 – An initiative at Jefferson University is helping teach students in clinical programs the most important subject of all: empathy. The Health Mentors Program (HMP) is bridging the gap between students’ clinical knowledge and their understanding of the whole person—a key component of patient-centered care.​   

Highlighted in the January 2022 issue of PATIENT SAFETY, the HMP pairs interprofessional teams of students with health mentors—dedicated volunteers in the community who are experiencing chronic health issues or disabilities who meet regularly with the students to help them learn what’s not in their textbooks.

“There are so many times in healthcare where our trainees would traditionally only see people not at their best and then formulate a stereotype, because they’ve never seen someone with a certain condition outside of the hospital,” Nethra Ankam, co-faculty lead for the HMP program told PATIENT SAFETY. “The goal is for the students to learn about the person and their experiences in the healthcare system; understand how the person’s health and well-being is affected by their environment; and appreciate the broader social determinants of health, advocacy, and person-centered care.”

Twelve different professions are involved in the HMP program including athletic training, couple and family therapy, human genetics, nutrition, and occupational therapy, as well as medicine and nursing.

“Whether to become a nurse, therapist, pharmacist or physician, students dedicate years learning their profession, with countless hours spent studying topics like anatomy, pharmacology, and chemistry. But what about empathy, what about teamwork?” asks Patient Safety Authority (PSA) executive director, Regina Hoffman, MBA, RN. “This program gives students a person-centered foundation and team skills to bring to the patient bedside. Ultimately, these are key factors in patient care and safety.”

Other topics in this issue of PATIENT SAFETY include:

  • Wrong-Site Surgery: Does That Really Happen? – Robert Yonash, patient safety liaison at the PSA reminds us that the risk of experiencing a wrong-site surgery is still all too real. He explains why these events continue to occur and offers strategies for prevention.
  • Tracheostomy and Laryngectomy Airway Safety Events: An Analysis of Patient Safety Reports from 84 Hospitals – Airway management often comes with high stakes. Lea Anne Gardner, patient safety analyst, and Rebecca Jones, director of Data Science and Research at PSA, analyzed reports from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) related to tracheostomies and laryngectomies. They review their findings and discuss potential safety strategies to reduce risk. The PA-PSRS is the largest database of its kind in the United States.
  • Medication Safety in the Emergency Department: A Study of Serious Medication Errors Reported by 101 Hospitals From 2011 to 2020 - Serious medication errors are uncommon, but consequences can be devastating. Patient safety analyst Elizabeth Kukielka and director of Data Science and Research Rebecca Jones share their deep dive into Emergency Department medication events and discuss potential prevention measures.

    Patient Safety is the peer-reviewed journal of the Patient Safety Authority. A scientific publication, Patient Safety humanizes patient harm with stories, opinion pieces, and magazine-quality design. It has a readership of more than 45,000 people in 164 countries. ​                                                      

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