Happier team, happier clients: Q&A about upcoming Beyond Medicine mentorship workshop

Nonmedical skills are fundamental to the health of a practice’s team.

By Connor Dunwoodie

During AAHA’s upcoming Beyond Medicine Workshop, sponsored by Chewy Health, industry experts James Desir, DVM, and Alyssa Mages, CVT, will dive into the topic of mentoring–and what that means for you.   

We talked with the speakers about what attendees can expect during these free workshops open to all veterinary team members.  

Q: What can people expect from the upcoming Beyond Medicine Workshops? 

James Desir, DVM: Expect a lot of open and honest communication. Expect a deep dive into what it means to build a mentorship program, and really, just the concept of mentorship as a whole. 

 Mentorship is almost like the carrot that we dangle in front of new graduates or support staff members, but often we don’t follow through. I don’t think it’s ill-intended, but we just don’t have the tools. So what we’re going to do is really build those tools, build that skill set, and give you some more content in how to develop a mentorship program within your hospital. 

Alyssa Mages, CVT: I love that the acronym is “BMW” because this is a luxury vehicle. It’s really focused on taking that whole concept of mentorship and getting it down to the nitty gritty. Understanding what it means from the fundamentals of it, what the perspectives can look like from both a veterinarian and a veterinary technician, and how it’s integrated into a team effectively. What that looks like from an internal and external perspective. 

 What I’m most excited about is we’re going to be working on tips and tricks for those that attend to start the process of creating their own programs within their practices. 


Q: Can you talk about the importance of mentorship in vet med? 

James Desir, DVM: I find that anytime I’m asked a question like that, I immediately go back to when I first got out of school. Like most grads, [I was] just super excited but didn’t know what I didn’t know. You’re relying on another doctor, support staff, or supervisor to really guide you. Sometimes they do a great job, sometimes they don’t have those tools or skills to really build you up. This is such an influential time that it can create who you become for the rest of your career. If I get burned, I want to make sure someone else doesn’t get burned by that same fire.  

Alyssa Mages, CVT: I think mentorship is important regardless of what industry we’re in. Honing in on veterinary medicine in particular, this is one of the few careers where it is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. To really get through that on a daily basis, you need to  have a support system in place and someone to not only teach you the clinical skills, but to support you through the day-to-day. It’s about those human skills that help us become who we are always meant to be. 


Q: What can a practice that has strong mentorship at its core expect as an outcome? 

James Desir, DVM: How about happy employees? Who doesn’t want that? How about people who are as driven to build your business as you are? Obviously, revenue is something we have to consider, but [with mentoring] they’re going to be better producers, they’re going to be more well-rounded individuals. Your clients are going to be happier because the staff members who interact with them are happier. You’re going to have a higher quality of medicine because you have the ability to communicate and cooperate.  

 There really isn’t a downside to good mentorship. But on the flip side, bad mentorship can destroy your practice. Bad mentorship can lead to angst, anxiety, and burnout.  

 Alyssa Mages, CVT: I think what’s really important is, when you’re looking at implementing and creating that mentorship program, that there’s structure to it. If it’s just like “Oh, we’ll figure this out as we go,” it’s not going to work, especially in such a fast-paced, dynamic environment like a veterinary practice. 

You want to really make sure that it’s integrated into the foundations of the practice ethos as well as into the formal mentoring relationships between the people that are getting involved. 


Further reading 

Beyond Medicine Workshop

 2023 AAHA Mentoring Guidelines 


Connor Dunwoodie is AAHA’s Senior Content Manager. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.  



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