Why a good mentor isn’t necessarily your boss
I’ve talked to some of my classmates about whether they would want a mentor when they graduate. Most of them have said that they do. When I asked them how they were going to find a mentor, they all said the same general thing: “I’m going to make good mentoring a part of my job search.” From my understanding, this is how mentoring works across the veterinary profession, and I don’t think it’s the best way to do it.
When I ask people about what they want a mentor to do, most people say that they want their mentor to help them with medicine. They want help with a tricky case or guidance on how to do a spay, because students can always use more surgical experience. But that is job training, not mentoring.
Mentoring includes aspects of professional development such as client communication skills, intrapersonal skills at the clinic, and professional advice such as how to get a raise. It also includes emotional support, such as with dealing with a board complaint or the loss of a patient. Job training directly benefits the clinic you work for – the better you do the things in your job description, the more money the clinic makes. Conversely, mentoring often runs contrary to the interests of the clinic, either through inconveniencing the veterinarian mentoring you or directly costing the clinic money such as with learning how to ask for a raise. In my opinion, having a third party mentor with no managerial connection to you is the best way to set up a mentoring relationship.
It is also very difficult to determine who will be a good mentor. Most of my classmates want to interview at their future practices and ask for mentoring. It’s very easy to give a counterfeit yes in this case – anyone can act like a good mentor for an hour. In that case, the new veterinarian signs a contract with a clinic expecting mentorship and the owner never has any free time to understand the mentees questions and concerns. On the other hand, third party mentors such as through DVM Mentoring, are there because they want to teach and listen. It’s easy to find someone who can be a good mentor for you because you can literally search for the things that matter to you.