Introducing the 2023 AAHA Mentoring Guidelines
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a skilled mentor, you know just how important mentoring can be—to your career, your wellbeing, and even your practice as a whole.
In fact, if you haven’t received good mentorship, you might be just as aware of how helpful it can specifically because you did not have it.
Today, the value of mentoring is greater than ever, said AAHA Guidelines Editorial Director Ingrid Taylor, DVM. “Our profession is currently undergoing a crisis of individual and collective wellness, as well as facing difficulties in recruitment and retention,” she said. And that makes the release of the 2023 AAHA Mentoring Guidelines particularly timely.
While she acknowledged that the healing of the veterinary profession will require a multifaceted solution, she believes that good mentoring can be an essential part of it. The problem, she said, is that many people don’t know how to mentor effectively.
“To be totally honest, the lack of mentoring caused me to lose enthusiasm in clinical practice early on when I graduated as a veterinarian,” Taylor said. “By not investing in mentoring, we’re making things so much harder on ourselves and losing good people from the profession.”
Alison Meindl, DVM, DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice), has had a much different mentoring experience than Taylor, and it was her experience that inspired her to join the mentoring guidelines task force. “I wanted to get involved with revising the AAHA mentoring guidelines because I have been so fortunate to have had and continue to have great mentors throughout my career in veterinary medicine,” she said.
“I like that these guidelines provide a concrete roadmap for things to consider when entering into a mentoring relationship and hope that it will help future mentors and mentees navigate meaningful and productive exchanges that provide career longevity and enjoyment.”
AAHA 2023 Mentoring Guidelines: Something for everyone
The guidelines are designed to help both mentors and mentees discuss and set expectations in a potential mentoring relationship—and help them identify when a potential mentoring relationship may not be the right fit for them. This is crucial because, when a mentor enters into a mentoring relationship for which they don’t have the bandwidth, or if a mentee accepts a mentorship from someone whose approach to medicine or workplace culture doesn’t align with their career goals, the experience can do more harm than good.
Additionally, mentors must take diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) into account and be willing to interrogate their own privilege and biases to create a safe and welcoming space for mentees who may come into veterinary medicine with a vastly different lived experience, which is an important aspect the guidelines address.
And it’s not only veterinarians who benefit from mentoring, but everyone in the practice, because good mentoring leads to a happier, more collaborative workplace culture, said AAHA Chief Medical Officer Jessica Vogelsang, DVM.
“The 2023 mentoring guidelines are the perfect addition to AAHA’s ‘Year of the Team,’ and we’re proud to offer this valuable resource to support all veterinary team members to help reinforce the critical concept that mentorship is for everyone,” she said.
Recent graduates and new hires may be the most obvious candidates, but mentoring is actually vital at all stages and can be especially helpful to people who’ve been promoted, are taking on new responsibilities, or who are experiencing transition in their jobs, no matter how long they’ve been in practice.
Creating the guidelines themselves was a team effort.
“The entire task force that worked on the mentorship guidelines was dedicated to making sure they were comprehensive, evidence-based, and inclusive,” said Marie Sato Quicksall, DVM, CVA, co-chair of the 2023 AAHA Mentoring Guidelines task force.
“Mentorship is so important in a high-stress, highly skilled profession like veterinary medicine. These guidelines can help potential mentors, mentees, and practices looking to update or start mentorship programs consider the multiple factors that are important to successful mentorship relationships.”
“We are incredibly excited about the work of this A-list task force of dedicated professionals who live and breathe this topic,” Vogelsang said. “These guidelines provide a roadmap to creating effective mentoring relationships by encouraging self-reflection, preparation, connection, and open dialogue. With the mentoring guidelines, veterinary teams can simplify their practice from the ground up, by investing time and energy in the hardworking team who makes it all happen.”
The 2023 AAHA Mentoring Guidelines are generously supported by Merck.
Photo credit: ersinkisacik © E+ via Getty Images Plus
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.