October 01, 2014


 Mentoring program plays matchmaker

Posted Sept. 17, 2014

Eighteen mentors and mentees paired up within weeks of attending a luncheon at the Association of Avian Veterinarians’ annual conference in August in New Orleans. 

The Compass Mentoring Program, an AVMA initiative, played the part of matchmaker. The AVMA has piloted the mentoring program in partnership with three state VMAs and the AAV. Zoetis also has provided funding.

The inaugural class of the AVMA Future Leaders Program developed Compass to help meet the desire for mentorship in the veterinary profession. The AVMA launched the program in Connecticut with an October 2012 kickoff event and June 2013 follow-up event, pairing 20 recent graduates with mentors.

Four mentees found one or two mentors each as a result of a Compass event in June 2013 with the Alabama VMA at the Emerald Coast Veterinary Conference in Florida. The AVMA canceled a January 2014 event in conjunction with the Indiana VMA’s annual meeting because of a lack of RSVPs.

Dr. Robert Groskin, AAV executive director, said the AAV has always had a luncheon at its annual conference to bring together experienced avian veterinarians with first-time attendees and veterinary students. This year, the luncheon also served as a meeting place for mentors and mentees.

“I like the idea of the ongoing mentorship relationship,” Dr. Groskin said. “This program is a creative way to introduce
younger members to the value associations have in fostering personal professional relationships, which cannot be found in virtual communities.”

This year’s luncheon attracted 47 students and first-time attendees and 25 potential mentors. Mostly students signed up for mentors.
The AVMA is considering new directions for Compass, said Dr. Carrie Javorka, assistant director for recent graduate
initiatives in the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division. Future kickoff events could combine stand-alone continuing education with networking, and the AVMA might try partnering with a regional or local VMA in addition to the state VMAs.  Another idea is to develop a mentoring network for mentees.

For one-on-one relationships between mentors and mentees, Compass organizers have found that an initial face-to-face
interaction is vital to making the right match.

Dr. Javorka said the program has allowed mentors to give back to a new generation of veterinarians. She said, “They feel as though the knowledge and experience they have garnered throughout their years in practice can be put to good use in making things a little easier for students and recent grads at a time that can be very stressful for them.”

Dr. Javorka said all the mentees who responded to surveys were somewhat or very satisfied with their mentoring relationship. She said, “They have had someone to lean on and introduce them to others in their respective associations who can help them in their personal and professional lives.”

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