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Peer Mentors are Vital

A Peer Mentor is an individual with a positive outlook on managing their disease who is committed to providing support to others. These individuals can help empower kidney patients to move forward with their lives after being diagnosed with kidney disease. Peer Mentors are individuals who have walked the same path and may understand the kidney patient experience better than friends, family, and the renal team. They can act as a bridge for better communication with medical staff, which assures that staff understand patients’ concerns, issues, and priorities.

Peer Mentors are a valuable part of the health care team who can show patients that controlling and managing their health will allow them to live longer, happier lives. Most importantly, Peer Mentors can make a world of difference as living proof that life does not end with kidney disease.

Peer mentor with patient

Connect with a Mentor

Below are the health systems with Peer Mentor programs that have met our standards:

  • Beaumont Kidney Transplant Peer Mentor Program: The Beaumont program matches pre- and post-transplant patients with trained and certified Peer Mentors who have similar circumstances. All Peer Mentors have received a kidney transplant. The Mentors work closely with the Transplant Social Worker, visiting dialysis units and contacting patients to help combat challenges related to life with kidney disease. For questions about Beaumont Health’s Kidney Peer Mentor Program, please call Susan Walker, LMSW, CCTSW at 248-551-9897 or e-mail at swalker@beaumont.edu


  • University of Michigan Kidney Transplant Peer Mentor Program: This program allows patients to connect with someone who has already received a kidney transplant. The interaction between mentor and patient can occur in the dialysis center, during the transplant evaluation, while patients are listed, or after transplant. For questions on the University of Michigan Kidney Transplant Peer Mentor Program, please call 1-800-333-9013 or email transplantoutreach@umich.edu.


  • Greenfield Health Systems Peer Mentor Program: The Greenfield Health Systems (GHS) Peer Mentor Program consists of patients and family members trained in partnership with NKFM. Once trained, Peer Mentors become part of the GHS Peer Mentor Community. The Peer Mentor Community provides structure and support through meetings which consists of educational speakers, a safe venue for open dialogue, training exercises, an opportunity for connecting to community activities, and more. The GHS Peer Mentor Community promotes best practices and is an integral part of the care team by assisting patients and family members in their ESRD journey. To get involved with the GHS Peer Mentor Program contact Sheena Manalel at 313-270-9239 ext. 236 or Hannah Cayton at 248-358-7521.

Become a Mentor

There are two options available for individuals to get involved as a Peer Mentor:

Health System Peer Mentor programs: Contact your social worker and express your interest in getting involved in your health system’s Peer Mentor program. For a list of the health systems that have Peer Mentor programs, go to the tab above called “Connecting with a Peer Mentor”

Health System Peer Mentors must:

  • Be kidney donors, kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, or family members of patients
  • Participate in an intensive 8-hour training to learn communication and listening skills
  • Be willing to discuss topics such as grief and loss, sexuality and relationships, death and dying, and managing a chronic disease

National Phone-Based Peer Mentor Program: If your health system does not have a Peer Mentor program, you can get involved through the National Kidney Foundation’s PEERS program. This is a national peer support program through which you mentor patients over the phone. In order to get involved in the PEERS program, call 855-653-7337 (855-NKF-PEER) or email nkfpeers@kidney.org. More information at, www.kidney.org/patients/Peers/

National Phone-Based Peer Mentors must:

  • Have access to a telephone
  • Have chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, or a kidney transplant
  • Complete a comprehensive telephone-based training program
  • Be competent and ready to become a mentor after training
  • Speak English to participate in training

Start a Program

If you work for a dialysis unit, transplant center, or other health service and would like assistance in starting a Peer Mentor program, contact the NKFM at 800-482-1455. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan can help by:

  • Providing training to Peer Mentors
  • Providing best practice ideas from other Peer Mentor Programs in Michigan
  • Providing updated templates for recruiting and marketing
  • Assisting with connecting new program sites to existing Peer Mentor Programs
  • Organizing data collection on Peer Mentor activities
  • Providing continuing education to Peer Mentors
  • Connecting your health system with other NKFM programs

Our Standards

Below are the standards that a health system Peer Mentor program must meet in order to be endorsed by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan:

  • The program must identify a program champion who will work directly with the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan on program implementation.
  • The program must provide mentee assignments to Peer Mentors. Assignments can involve Peer Mentors working one-on-one with patients or with groups of patients, but the vital component of any assignment is the formation of a relationship involving conversation and the building of trust.
  • The program must partner with the NKFM to provide a Peer Mentor training or utilize an National Kidney Foundation of Michigan approved training curriculum.
  • The program must recruit patients to be trained as Peer Mentor.
  • The program must communicate data about the program to the NKFM and ensure that Peer Mentors are returning activity tracking forms.