Research Watch: A New Use for Hospitals: Youth Mentoring

Diana Zuckerman
May 1, 1999

Wendy McClanahan

Public/Private Ventures

One Commerce Square

2005 Market St., Ste. 900

Philadelphia, PA 19103

Available for $6 at above address. Contact: (215) 557-4400 or

What do hospitals have to do with career mentoring? The advantage is a large number of adults representing a very wide range of careers, and a location that is well-known, safe, and open 24 hours a day.

This report is based on the Hospital Youth Mentoring Program, a national demonstration project in 15 hospitals in 11 states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, and California.

Headed by Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore and the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation, the project included a one-on-one mentoring program between hospital staff and low-income middle school and high school students. Most of the programs were career-
oriented, and included tours of the hospital, career and educational workshops, and sometimes even paid jobs. Several of the programs were more oriented toward social activities. In all programs, mentors served as a big brother/big sister, friend, role model, career guide and advocate for the youths.

The project’s purpose was to reach students who were at high risk for potential school failure, many of whom had family problems, low income, were raised by single parents, or had social problems.

Although the programs varied in terms of focus (such as their emphasis on social activities), they all included career mentoring. Overall, the evaluation reported successful relationships between the mentors and the students. Although the report provides a useful model for mentoring high-risk youth, the evaluation of the program includes many subjective, self-reported measures of success. In programs of this kind, it is expected that most of the mentors and students will express positive opinions; otherwise, they probably would have dropped out.

Zuckerman, Diana. "A New Use for Hospitals: Youth Mentoring." Research Watch review of "Relationships in a Career Mentoring Program". Youth Today, May 1999, p. 13.

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