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Mentorship Position or Internship?

by Jan Thomas

Although a full-time associate position pays more than an internship, making it easier to start paying down loans earlier, new graduates with largely untested skills have legitimate concerns about getting in over their heads and either being unable to perform medical services when and as required or being unable to manage business responsibilities appropriately.

“Students look at internships because they’re full of knowledge but lacking in clinical experience. What they’re hoping for is hands-on guidance and more ability to do hands-on technical stuff,” says AAHA President Anna Worth, VMD. “They’re doing the internship for not much money—$25,000 is the going rate right now—which is a $40,000 differential between what they could get paid in a private practice, and that $40,000 is like tuition.”

And while internships certainly have value, some interns find their expectations of hands-on experience and increased responsibility unfulfilled.

“An internship is more of a clinical training position, where responsibility is typically less than a new grad would have as an associate in general practice,” says AAHA’s president-elect, John Tait, DVM, MBA, CFP. “An intern will rotate through various areas of the hospital, where an associate typically has responsibility for all hospital functions. A mentor-rich position focuses on developing the individual beyond just clinical skills and addresses life balance, career planning, financial issues, and coping skills among others. The advantages of an internship are exposure to tertiary care cases and the expertise interns are surrounded with. The advantages of a mentor-rich position are the ability to grow both personally and professionally and to have an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with a mentor.”

This article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Trends magazine. Copyright 2009 © American Animal Hospital Association. All Rights Reserved.

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