The One-on-One Kidney Transplant Education Program
In an effort to provide education about the treatment option of transplantation to dialysis patients, the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation (MNIT) developed a comprehensive education program for dialysis patients, that provides them with personalized one-on-one education and support from specially trained organ transplant recipients known as Peer Educators.
Offered in both English and Spanish, the program takes place at dialysis centers and aims at helping patients to make informed decisions about pursuing transplantation. The program emphasizes the life-long responsibility of caring for a transplanted kidney, the importance of being proactive in health care, the overall transplant process and living donation.
The program’s success can be attributed to the personalized communication between patients and Peer Educators. Dialysis patients value the educational information shared by the Peer Educators, who have experienced kidney failure and transplantation, and also the fact that Peer Educators are able to understand, listen and support them in a very unique way.
Peer Educators empower dialysis patients to be proactive about their health and provide these patients with extensive information regarding organ transplantation as an effective and long-term option that can greatly improve quality of life.
Education Project: Achieving Its Goals
The One-on-One Program was created with the financial support of the UniHealth Foundation, which included a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of the program. The results of the survey conducted 2006-2007 exhibit an impressive rate of patient satisfaction of the program:
- 89.7% of patients surveyed “strongly agreed” to “overall I have a better understanding of kidney transplantation.”
- 93.2% of patients surveyed “strongly agreed” to “this program informed me of the tremendous commitment in caring for a transplanted organ.”
- 95.2% of the patients surveyed “strongly agreed” to “I recommended this program to other patients.”
While the preliminary evaluation indicated higher than expected results, these results do not come close to showing how dialysis patients have benefited from this program. Comments made by participants on the surveys indicate that Peer Educators, who are kidney transplant recipients, have provided a connection that healthcare professionals cannot, especially with patients who have language barriers.
Sharing The Success of the One-on-One Program
Nicole Mendez, MA, MFT, creator of the One-On-One Program, is the Executive Director for the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation Foundation (MNITF), and the creator and Executive Producer of Fixing Paco. As a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a background in the psychosocial issues of chronically ill patients, Nicole quickly recognized that the needs of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney transplant recipients were not being met, primarily in accessing transplantation, understanding transplantation as treatment option, and successfully living with a kidney transplant. In response, Nicole created the Community & Patient Education Department at MNIT, which included creating, developing, and overseeing the Community End-Stage Renal Disease Program, the One-on-One Kidney Transplant Program, and the MNIT Mentor Program. As a guest speaker, Nicole is frequently called upon to give educational talks on the importance of comprehensive education for ESRD patients and kidney transplant recipients, and using the program model of peers as educators. She has presented at the combined International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS) and Transplant Recipient International Organization (TRIO) in St. Louis, MO (2008); World Kidney Day in Los Angeles, CA; and National Kidney Foundation Spring Conference in Las Vegas, NV (2014), where she spoke about the success of the One-on-One Program and the need for comprehensive patient education.