Why does Mentorship Matter in Vet Med?
Guys, Mentorship is EVERYTHING! It was not until we both started out that we truly understood the value of mentorship. Ashley sought it out by pursuing an internship, and Monica had hoped to find it at her first job at a general practice. We each had different experiences, and unfortunately over time Monica found that she did not get the mentorship she had hoped for during her first year. Monica actually ended up joining Ashley at the same hospital a year later! Ashley set herself up in an internship at a teaching hospital with many doctors to learn from, which did help, but she did not have one specific mentor. Looking back, she regrets not having one mentor she could have gone to regularly to help her on a personal level.
Outside of our own experiences, we both realized through working with interns and externs just how scary it is to be a new grad. Surrounding ourselves with students solidified in us just how important this mentor-mentee relationship is to early success. Who doesn't want someone to talk to on a professional, medical, and personal level so that you can learn from their successes and mistakes.
This mentor-mentee relationship helps you to survive our profession. A mentor is someone you can look up to and who will guide you throughout your career. We all face similar struggles and challenges, so forming your support system is a vital part to your professional success and longevity in the profession.
So what makes a good mentor?
A good mentor is someone who provides you with motivation, emotional support, and guidance through their own personal experiences. Your mentor should be your cheerleader, coach, and friend. The key is to find someone who WANTS to mentor you. Some people just aren't as passionate about teaching, and that is ok. You have to ask in order to find out. You can have one or multiple mentors, as it helps to learn from a variety of veterinarians. They can each have something special to offer you.
What makes a good mentee?
This is something that is not often talked about, but it is important too. The success of this relationship is by establishing early what you each want out of the relationship. A good mentee is someone who is self-aware and takes constructive feedback well. A mentor is always trying to give advice based on what they see and know, so you will want to be open to this feedback and willing to listen. It is important to not take this feedback personally, as it is only meant to help you grow. It is also important to remember that your mentor can be very busy, so it is up to you to keep the relationship strong by reaching out when you need help.
How do you find a mentor?
See what your school or state (VMA) offers. Many have programs already where you are paired with a mentor in your first year at school. Typically, they have graduated from your college too so you will have some things in common!
Reach out to local vets in clinics where you are interested in working to see if they are willing to let you shadow them. By getting to know different vets, you can figure out who you would like to be your mentor.
Use social media! Just like how you found us here on Instagram, there are many vets out there utilizing Vetstagram to reach students. You may find one who is willing to help you.
See what your clubs or local associations are offering. They may have connections or programs set up where you can use their network to help you meet a vet in your particular area of interest and location.
Now, you definitely need to be proactive to seek out mentorship. Do not be afraid to ask them, as you will be surprised who is willing to help you. If they say no, don't take it personally. It just means they already have a lot going on, and you want to find a mentor who has time for you. Start early because it takes time to form relationships, and you never know what they can help you with in the future (whether it is a job, resume help, networking, etc).
Just remember, we are here to be your virtual mentors at VETS ON THE RISE. We are VERY excited to help grow you into the vet you were meant to be through our blog posts, Instagram, programs, and more!
Ashley & Monica