New subcommittee to look at mentoring model

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The Executive Board approved a joint recommendation from Dr. James E. Nave, AVMA president, and the Member Services Committee to establish a subcommittee that will develop a model mentoring program to support veterinarians at all stages of their professional lives.

The Mentorship Program Subcommittee will assist the Member Services Committee on issues related to the diversity and economic condition of AVMA members by creating a model program to help veterinarians gain the confidence and perspective necessary to meet professional and personal challenges throughout their careers.

Dr. Nave believes that continued learning of life skills is an essential component of self-improvement. He attributes the high employee retention rates at his veterinary practices to his focus on mentoring. During his address to the AVMA House of Delegates this past July, Dr. Nave announced his plans for the Association to begin developing a mentorship model for veterinarians.

"I cannot emphasize how important it is to do this and how much the profession wants this," he said. Ideally, mentoring would be available at critical stages starting with the pre-veterinary student, progressing through the college years and continuing with the recent graduate and during the "burn-out years," and finally during retirement.

The board approved a $16,000 allocation from reserves to fund two, two-day meetings for the subcommittee.

Its charge is:

  • assess and prioritize the types of mentoring needs of veterinarians; identify intergenerational differences to understand diversity and areas of commonality;
  • review existing mentorship programs offered by other veterinary and non-veterinary professional organizations
  • identify program goals and potential benefits of a model mentorship program for participants, the profession, and the AVMA
  • identify and recommend a structure, implementation process, program means, and a review process for a model mentorship program.

The subcommittee will comprise six members of the Member Services Committee, including a recent graduate, a student member, and an honor roll member.

While the board overwhelmingly supported the concept of a mentoring program, there was discussion about the difficulty. Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, District VIII, pointed out that such programs are difficult to maintain, requiring a great deal of dedication and manpower.

Dr. Roger Mahr, District V, said creating and maintaining a mentor program of this scale would take a great deal of time and coordination, but is worth the effort, nonetheless.