We are hard-wired to learn from those who have gone before us, and our careers—especially those in veterinary medicine—should be no different.

Visit a local playground, and you’ll readily see the awe with which little kids watch bigger kids: they observe their every move and, in so doing, learn how to play tag, swing across the monkey bars, balance on a bike. Such skills are not learned from a book (or a lecture or a lab) but from watching and doing. This is the power of mentorship.

The Importance of Veterinary Mentorship at AmeriVet

At AmeriVet, we believe in the power of mentorship for professionals at all stages of their careers, especially those just starting out. Each year, thousands of recent graduates enter the veterinary profession equipped with knowledge and passion. Yet so many veterinary skills are learned not in a lab, but on the job.

Veterinary school prepares new veterinarians to diagnose diseases, perform oral surgery, and do routine lab work. But it’s the soft skills of the profession that take time to learn and need to be taught by those with years of experience. In fact, one of the most common reasons early-career veterinarians leave the industry is a lack of mentorship. No textbook can teach how to compassionately care for a family needing to say goodbye to a beloved pet or how to prioritize self-care after performing euthanasia.

It’s for this reason that we at AmeriVet have built a robust mentorship program with even more enhancements coming soon in 2024. We want all of our team to feel supported and seen, and the best way to do that is through mentorship.

How Our Veterinary Mentorship Program Works

Tailored to nurture professional growth, our program pairs each new graduate with an experienced mentor who offers invaluable guidance, sharing insights honed through years of hands-on experience.

Our program lasts one year and is open to employees working across the industry, from animal hospitals to general practice clinics to veterinary labs. Beyond the mentor relationship, we foster growth and community through programs such as:

  • A monthly continuing education series
  • Monthly virtual cohort conversations and guest speakers
  • Regular workshops to further develop skills
  • Input on career direction and goals
  • An annual on-site event celebrating current and new mentors

Through one-on-one interactions, workshops, and ongoing support, our mentorship initiative creates a collaborative environment where knowledge is seamlessly transferred, fostering confidence and competence in the next generation of veterinary professionals. As participants navigate the intricacies of patient care, diagnostics, and client communication, they gain not only practical skills but also a sense of camaraderie within the veterinary community.

From the Role and Benefit of a Mentee

The benefits of mentorship for a mentee are truly invaluable. These intentional relationships help train the next generation of skilled veterinarians and significantly improve retention across clinics and hospitals. Let’s take a look at some of the most common benefits of having a mentor:

  • Knowledge Transfer and Skill Development: Certain hands-on aspects of veterinary medicine can only be learned on the job. It’s why continuing education and professional development are so critical in the field—we’ve always got to be learning and adapting. A mentor not only hastens the learning process but also humanizes it, providing a safe space for veterinarians to learn new practices and develop deeper skills.
  • Professional Ethics and Values: There are deep ethical and moral questions at the heart of veterinary medicine and these can be incredibly challenging to navigate early on. Mentors are critical sounding boards when mentees are faced with tough decisions and gray areas, of which there are many.
  • Emotional Support: Caring for small animals and their owners is emotional work. At one appointment, you’re greeting an adorable new puppy; at the next, you’re discussing options for end-of-life care. A mentor can help guide you through all the highs and lows, imparting wisdom for realistic expectations, self-care, and work-life balance.
  • Encouragement and Confidence Building: Veterinary students go from the constant evaluations and examinations of veterinary school to the untethered world of professional life with only a single annual review built into the system. It can be challenging to know how to do things and how well you are doing them. A mentor provides encouragement and constructive feedback to help build mentees’ confidence, overcome challenges, and persevere in their professional journey.
  • Continued Learning and Professional Development: Veterinary medicine is an ever-evolving field with medical treatments, technology, and research constantly advancing. It’s important to know how to stay current on industry developments and which resources are best for professional development. Mentors provide such guidance.

From the Role and Benefit of a Mentor

While there is huge benefit for the mentee, serving as a mentor can have benefits of its own.

  • Fresh perspective: A mentee, especially a recent graduate, has the most up-to-date veterinary school information fresh in their brain. Their knowledge—and unbridled passion for animal care—can bring the mentor new waves of energy, excitement, and innovative ideas.
  • Leadership Growth: Becoming a compassionate and skilled leader in the field does not happen overnight. Learning your strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to encourage and guide others takes practice. Mentorship provides the perfect training ground for seasoned veterinarians to grow their leadership and communication skills.
  • Job Satisfaction: Investing in the next generation of veterinarians and passing along the wisdom you have gained throughout your career is incredibly rewarding. Sharing knowledge and best practices fills your day with meaning—and protects you against burnout—as you care for others learning the ropes of their first year. It truly is better to give than to receive.

What Comes Next?

Are you a recent grad interested in gaining a mentor? Or a seasoned DVM interested in giving back? We’d love to get you connected in our mentoring program. Contact your AmeriVet supervisor to see how we can support you today.