Bring your skills to the table
In her involvement with the Veterinary Leadership Experience program, Charles discusses the soft skills of medicine — how
you communicate and build rapport with people and how you bridge the gap in helping them understand what their animal needs.
Charles earned a Master's degree in organizational leadership from Biola University, and is conscientious about trying to
apply those principals to veterinary practice. "Horse owners can be a high-maintenance, demanding group, so that's a huge
part of how you help students to transition and be involved in the profession effectively," she says.
Charles sees it as her job to help students understand all the opportunities available to them in equine practice and then
help them figure out where they best fit. "I definitely come from a strength-based philosophy where I want to use what I'm
good at," she says. "So helping students is something that excites me."
Move beyond clinical skills
It used to mean that to learn from a mentor, you'd just go and follow someone around — you'd watch and learn. But this generation
of students wants to ask questions and understand why things are the way they are. Mentoring should be interactive. "I tell
the students why I do the things I do and what motivates me to do them. I encourage them to ask questions," Charles says.
So, how do you make sure that there is an appropriate exchange of information between the gurus and the next generation of
students? There can be some disconnect because of the communication styles in play and what the expectations are. "I've had
several students become disillusioned because they think that they're not heard," Charles says. "They assume that equine medicine
is just a good-old-boys club, and they refuse to play those games. Their decision is to leave and do something else, either
in a small-animal practice or they leave veterinary medicine altogether," Charles says.
Luke Bass, DVM, is a member of the AAEP Student Relations Committee and the intern coordinator at Pioneer Equine Hospital
in Oakdale, Calif. The clinic annually works with about 150 externs from U.S. veterinary schools and another 10 to 15 international
students. The externs work at the clinic from one to two weeks and the international students work about eight to 10 weeks.
From that pool, they select three interns that stay with the clinic for a year.
Bass' role is to help the externs gain as much hands-on practical experience as possible. "We try not to focus on teaching
during appointments," Bass says. "Instead, we provide the veterinary students with a one-on-one opportunity to learn about
cases and therapeutic plans once the appointment is complete."
The students assist with emergencies and perfect their horse handling and technical skills while administering treatments,
medications and monitoring patients. "They learn to work as a team," Bass says. "We pride ourselves on providing a hands-on
experience, whether it's with first-, second-, third- or fourth-year students. And we encourage them to come back and apply
for an internship."
Annually, Pioneer accepts three interns. "I would put them up against any intern in the country as far as getting as much
primary case responsibility and decision-making skills as possible," Bass says. "They are far ahead of any intern in the country
as far as going out on their own to work in a referral practice or at a university." Pioneer has a high resident placement