SCHAUMBURG, ILL.—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) created a mentoring program to help veterinarians and veterinary students
share information and build professional networks.
Officials unveiled the Web-based program, http://
http://mentoring.avma.org/, at the recently concluded American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting in Philadelphia.
Dr. Ron Cott, associate for student and alumni affairs at the University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine, tells
DVM Newsmagazine that while the program is still in its infancy, veterinarians and students still need to get active. At presstime, the program
enrolled about 100 DVM/students; 500 participants are needed to start the search process to match up mentors and mentees.
Cott, who is the chair of AVMA's Model Mentoring Program, adds the program was created as a result of the KPMG "mega study"
conducted by AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to address
long-term professional and economic issues. This study cited retention of veterinarians as a potential issue, and this program
is heralded as an answer.
The ultimate goal, Cott explains, will be to "support a greater sense of loyalty to the profession," as well as prepare the
next generation of veterinarians to lead the profession through organized veterinary medicine.
The program is set up around the concept of sharing information among veterinarians.
Cott offers these benefits for mentors:
- Help practitioners stay current on "best practices" being taught in veterinary schools.
- Stimulate and renew enthusiasm for the profession through a new role as guide and advisor.
- Identify opportunities to enhance personal contributions to the future of the profession.
- Enhance self-awareness through exposure to diverse ideas and experiences.
- Access to resources to help make informed career decisions and to learn from experienced veterinarians.
- Build skills, knowledge and aptitudes.
- Develop relationships to assure personal growth, wellness and career enrichment.
- Create a sounding board for new ideas and a source for positive and constructive feedback.
Program developers wanted to make the program easy for users to access, Cott says. Therefore, an interested veterinarian or
veterinary student simply fills out an online form. Mentees list skills they wish to develop. Mentors complete a personal
profile including their universal competencies. Once up and running, the program then searches its database for a like match.
AVMA reports that young veterinarians also have a lot to teach, especially to older practitioners who might not have experience
in new procedures. So age is not a barrier to becoming a mentor, the association reports.
The program is ripe for veterinary students looking to seek mentors to help fill a void with "particular gaps in your knowledge,
skills, confidence level and understanding of the business."
The association, in partnership with Triple Creek Associates, created comprehensive mentor and mentee guidelines to help users
through the process. Information offering tips on making that selection are included.
The guide states, "Before you make your final mentor selection, remember that an ineffective mentor can be worse for you than
no mentor at all."
The guide cautions you on traits to watch out for, including:
- The prospective mentor should be well respected by peers.
- The mentor should "not be insecure about his/her own success."
- The mentor's work style should not be too different for yours (unless that is what you need).
- Work ethic should be similar.
- Mentor choice should be made on qualifications and mutual understanding of what is best for the mentee.
- Pay attention to potential conflicts of interest.
AVMA says that mentees have expectations as well. In fact, the association sets criteria, including:
- Initiate and drive the relationship.
- Identify initial learning goals.
- Seek feedback.
- Take an active role in his or her own learning.
- Initiate monitoring and closure sessions.
- Allocate time and energy.
- Follow through on commitments or renegotiate appropriately.
Cott says the topics up for consideration do not have to focus on veterinary medicine, either. Business and career development
topics are encouraged.
"You can get into any aspect to the profession you want. It does not all have to be veterinary related. It could be retirement
related. They goal is to exchange ideas," Cott adds; "we are looking to create a win-win."