MentorVet, AVMA partner to launch national platform for veterinary career mentorship

MentorVet Connect open to 2023 veterinary graduates who seek guidance from established peers

Updated May 12, 2023

This year's veterinary graduates now have an opportunity to receive free access to a digital mentoring platform that provides connection with experienced mentors.

MentorVet Connect is a new partnership between the AVMA and MentorVet, a growing entity that uses evidence-based approaches to empower veterinary professionals, with a primary goal to ensure that veterinary medicine is a healthy profession for individuals and communities. Additional support for the AVMA-MentorVet partnership is provided by educational funders Merck Animal Health and Royal Canin.

Dr. Addie R. Reinhard
Dr. Addie R. Reinhard
(Photos courtesy of Dr. Reinhard)

"MentorVet Connect was established to create meaningful connections between veterinary professionals, and the mentoring relationship has the potential to lead to positive impacts for both the mentor and the mentee," said Dr. Addie R. Reinhard, founder and CEO of MentorVet.

In fact, according to the 2022 AVMA Senior Survey, the number one reason veterinary graduates from the Class of 2022 who accepted jobs after receiving multiple offers chose the one they did was due to being involved in a mentoring relationship.

Mentors can act as advisers on a wide range of questions and issues that may confront early-career veterinarians. And for both participants, a positive mentor-mentee relationship can provide emotional and career support to increase well-being and career satisfaction.

"We envision that the MentorVet Connect community will bring individuals together in the profession who have the desire to create a healthier profession through mentorship," Dr. Reinhard said.

"We are thrilled to partner with MentorVet to offer this valuable resource to 2023 veterinary graduates," said Dr. Lori Teller, president of the AVMA. "We believe that a strong mentorship program like this will play a key role in helping new veterinarians build healthy and successful careers, while ultimately strengthening the veterinary profession as a whole. MentorVet Connect brought to you by AVMA is an excellent example of AVMA's commitment to addressing the needs of our members at all stages of their careers."

To join the program as a mentee, recent graduates complete an application as well as a short training session before receiving access to match with mentors on the platform. Participants must commit to at least one hour per month for mentoring and to being a proactive mentee.

To join as a mentor, any AVMA member who is licensed and has at least one year of experience can apply. Those who are interested can fill out the registration questionnaire. If accepted by the MentorVet team, participants will then complete a five-hour mentor orientation, eligible for five hours of continuing education credit, and create a mentor profile.

The platform will begin pairing mentees and mentors in July. Afterward, a six-month connection plan will be established.

The entire mentorship relationship takes place remotely, whether through digital meeting software or by phone or email. Mentors and mentees control their own experience, choosing how often and in what manner to connect. Together, the mentor and mentee create a customized mentoring plan that best suits their needs. Free to all participants, MentorVet Connect mentee opportunities are initially open to veterinary graduates who were considered a member in good standing of their campus Student AVMA chapter from the class of 2023, but the AVMA expects to expand the program over time.

MentorVet Connect complements in-clinic mentorships when available, offering broader connections that span geographic and practice boundaries.

Dr. Reinhard founded MentorVet in 2021 after two years of researching early career wellbeing at the University of Kentucky and developing the first program, MentorVetLeap, a structured mentorship program that includes professional skills training, peer and paired mentorship, and mental health and financial coaching.

About 500 veterinarians have participated in MentorVet Leap. MentorVet eventually plans to offer evidence-based programming to every member of the profession at every stage of their career.

Dr. Edris Grate
Dr. Edris Grate

Dr. Edris Grate, a small animal practitioner in Michigan, joined the MentorVet program after receiving his veterinary degree in 2021 from Purdue University. Early in his career, he dealt with isolation and taxing situations in where there were high levels of stress, anxiety, fear, and doubt.

"Structured mentorship helps ... to build a bond with someone that I may have only seen in passing at a conference but has the insight that I could use for my future and their future as well," Dr. Grate said. "I love that there are individuals of all levels that want to better themselves and the profession in many ways. Bringing these individuals together reminds me how important we are as a profession and how far we can still grow and impact this world.

"This community not only helps to lessen that isolation but helps to equip you to handle those situations."

A proven mentoring program can provide a solid foundation to launch a new veterinarian on a path toward success by growing confidence, building new skills, and even reducing exhaustion and burnout.

"Through our research, we consistently saw that having access to a mentorship relationship outside of the work environment can provide a safe space to discuss challenges faced within your career including things like stress management, imposter syndrome, ethical dilemmas, and conflict management," Dr. Reinhard said. "We wanted to expand the access of structured, paired mentorship to reach more of the veterinary profession, which is why we are so excited to collaborate with the AVMA to launch MentorVet Connect."

A version of this story appears in the July 2023 print issue of JAVMA.