AAHA launches new internship and mentorship standards for accredited veterinary hospitals

AAHA is the first major veterinary organization to offer a standards-based platform for establishing successful internship and/or mentorship programs at veterinary hospitals.

In fall 2014, the AAHA Board of Directors approved optional standards for accreditation of internship and mentorship programs at accredited veterinary hospitals.

To date, 9 hospitals have earned internship accreditation; 14 hospitals have earned mentorship accreditation. Two hospitals have received both internship and mentorship accreditation.

Helping practices attract the best internship candidates

An internship is a post-graduate, clinical training position (usually for one year) that enables veterinarians to gain practice experience by rotating through various departments in the hospital, or by focusing on a specific discipline. AAHA recognizes that internships help develop, add to, and enhance veterinarian’s skills, while increasing confidence, knowledge, and expertise, helping them become productive members of the veterinary team.

The AAHA internship standards send a strong message to candidates that a practice is serious about providing interns an educational program that allows them to add to and enhance their skills. Earning internship accreditation from AAHA shows a practice’s commitment to continually growing and enhancing its investment in its practice, the veterinary profession, patients, and clients.

"AAHA supports continuous improvement in all forms, including internship programs that help veterinarians enhance career options and build successful professional futures," said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, chief executive officer of AAHA. "Ultimately, this benefits practices, pet owners, and patients as well as the veterinary profession."

Aiding the transition from student to practitioner

A mentorship is a professional relationship in which a mentor (the experienced person) assists the mentee (a newcomer to the profession) in developing skills and knowledge to enhance the mentee’s professional and personal growth. AAHA has recognized that the skill sets developed during the veterinarian's first year in practice, as well as at other important career transitions, are crucial to their professional future.

Mentoring is invaluable during the transition from student to practitioner, and can be a powerful personal development and empowerment tool.

"Mentoring improves hospital culture, productivity, communication, and efficiency," Cavanaugh said. "It can help improve communication skills, promote long-term job satisfaction, and facilitate adoption of best practices. Ultimately, mentoring relationships lead to improved patient care and overall enhanced hospital performance."

All practices going through an AAHA evaluation, either to be reaccredited or to become accredited for the first time, may select the internship or mentoring standards as an optional part of their evaluation, at no extra cost.