How a Mentor is Different
Like many veterinary students, I’m a perfectionist. I like to do things right. Early on in my summer externship, I was able to help out on a surgical case that didn’t go as planned. I blamed myself. Thinking that I screwed up made all of the normal, small mistakes I made the rest of the week seem so much worse. I needed someone to talk to, I needed a mentor.
In contrast, if I had called my mom for advice, I probably would have heard something along the lines of, “It’s OK, everyone makes mistakes. You’re great and you’re going to be a great doctor.” On the other hand, I can imagine if I had made this mistake at work after graduating. I can hear my imaginary boss saying, “You could have lost the patient and the client and you definitely cost us a lot of money.” Thankfully, I was intentional about looking for a mentor for my summer externship. My mentor was not fazed by my mistake and told me, “I understand the risks of taking on an intern and you did a lot of things right.” Then he explored with me what had happened to try to discover the source of the problem. In this instance, there was a specific tool that I had been training on that caused me to have an artificial sense of security. ” We then worked on specific ways to avoid making that mistake again.
This is the unique perspective a mentor brings. He doesn’t have the emotional blindness of unconditional love or the managerial burden of a boss. A mentor is in the best position to give emotional support and professional advice. He can be sympathetic and push for more.
I am excited about DVM Mentor because this is going to allow more veterinarians to experience the benefits I have from a good mentor. Our profession is currently enduring a wellness crisis. The infusion of quality mentoring relationships could be the treatment for this daunting problem.