As you will note in my Veterinary Internships Part 1 post, many veterinary students are seeking internships to gain mentorship and more experience after veterinary school. The big question is, is this economically and professionally the best option?
Another question to ponder is, what defines a mentorship? This question is being heavily researched by the AVMA, AAHA, and other trade organizations. AAHA has devised mentorship guidelines between an employer/mentor and the new graduate/mentee, and a plan or agreement to enforce the relationship. These tools are amazing and useful, however, sometimes new graduates feel comfortable discussing certain topics with a mentor outside of their organization.
As a new graduate myself, I value the importance of having mentors and having mentees. I am enrolled in the mentor program through my state veterinary association, but I feel a disconnect to my mentee. I have never met her and only spoken with her over email twice, mainly to introduce myself. I have been at a loss as to how to offer my support. As a mentee in school, my mentor was approachable and nice, but again we stumbled to find topics of discussion and did not meet very often.
So mentorships are important and there are outlets to provide them, so why aren’t they living up to their potential. A new program by the AVMA seems to provide some solution. In late 2012, the AVMA introduced the Compass Mentoring Program in Connecticut. This program has funding and support from the state veterinary association and Zoetis. The funding allows for newsletters and functions. But it is not just money that has led to the success of the program, it is the organization. The organizers send out a newsletter to the participants with useful information, such as communication tools, as well as discussion topics. The mentees feel it is a nice forum to discuss weaknesses, career paths, etc outside of their work environments. The goal of the program is to have the pair meet up monthly, in-person and the relationship is followed up with participation surveys every 3 months. Accountability and topics for discussion are likely the keys to the success of this program thus far.
It is wonderful and vital to have a veterinarian you work with there for mentorship as you being to practice. It is also wonderful to have contacts outside of your hospital to create a more open forum, free of judgement. For example, what if you are unsure you are in the right practice and you want to discuss it with someone who has more experience and objectivity?
I hope that the Compass program will be expanded through the AVMA, and/or that more state veterinary associations will adopt a more formal approach to their already existing mentorship programs; our new and old graduates only stand to benefit.
Please see https://www.aahanet.org/Library/Mentoring.aspx for AAHA mentorship guidelines.