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About the AAHA Mentorship Toolkit

The Mentorship Toolkit is the culmination of multiple years of collaboration between the VetPartners™ Career Development Special Interest Group (CD SIG), an association with 200 members all of whom are practice management advisors and consultants, the American Animal Hospital Association and their My Veterinary Career division, and the National Veterinary Business Management Association (student association with nearly 4,000 members with chapters at all veterinary schools in the US). It has been developed with the objective of enhancing the veterinary economy, expediting the transition of new graduate to productive veterinary associates and growing their confidence and competencies as the driving forces.

The toolkit contains resources and support that enables employers and their employees to generate customized, detailed, programs that can be used to improve internship programs and/or develop successful team members who elect to bypass the traditional internship and replace it with a highly structured, accountable mentorship program.

Practice owners, managers, medical directors and associate veterinarians are encouraged to use the tools in this toolkit as a guide to create the successful practice health care teams they all dream of having where they work.

There are numerous obstacles facing recent veterinary school graduates and students about to enter the veterinary profession. Not only are professionals just entering the field experiencing barriers, but practice owners are also increasingly frustrated by high turnover rates as well as limited options for exiting from private practice.

Issues confronting students and recent graduates include:

  1. Overwhelming increases in student debt1,2;
  2. Remarkable increases in the number of students being admitted to veterinary schools3;
  3. No work force shortage in the profession4,5;
  4. Diminished numbers of job offers per graduate6;
  5. Two consecutive years of lower starting salaries7,8;
  6. Decreased opportunities for clinical training while in veterinary school;
  7. Lack of any quality assurance of internships9;
  8. Evidence that completing an internship has no significant effect on associate income, irrespective of the number of years post-graduation10;
  9. Ten years of decreasing case loads and transactions per full time equivalent (FTE) veterinarian11; and
  10. Rising costs for veterinary practices to hire and train new graduates to become productive team members.

These barriers to success were identified during the 2008 through 2012, 5-year series known as "The Elephant In the Room" (EITR) symposia held in conjunction with the National Veterinary Business Management Association (NVBMA) annual meeting at the North American Veterinary Conference each January.

These conferences were planned by the VetPartners Career Development Special Interest Group (CDSIG), formerly the Career Development Committee (CDC), and implemented via a strategic alliance with the NVBMA. Among the many ideas that surfaced during the EITR conferences, one continued to gain traction. It focused on the importance of creating a structured, staged and accountable mentorship program for new and/or recent graduates.

In an attempt to address these issues, the American Animal Hospital Association and VetPartners, in conjunction with the National Veterinary Business Management Association, created a "Mentorship Toolkit" for recent graduates and practices. For more information on the research leading up to this launch, as well as to view the tools and resources accompanying the toolkit, please click here.

Citations

  1. Larkin, M; Higher debt, lower salaries, a continuing concern for grads. JAVMA News,Feb 1, 2012, Vol 240 No 3 p. 248-51.
  2. Wilson, J Educational debt burden of veterinary students, JAVMA April 1, 2012 p. 803.
  3. Larkin M; Will veterinary education hit a tipping point? Feb 1, 2011 JAVMA Vol 238 No 3, 256-61.
  4. Reimer, K. (2012). No Veterinary workforce shortage, study finds. DVM 360, 1-4.
  5. Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine, by the National Research Council. The National Academies Press, 2012.
  6. Kirkpatrick, D. (2012). Veterinary school graduates see drop in job offers, starting salaries. Schaumburg, Ill.: American Veterinary Medical Association.
  7. Employment, starting salaries, and education indebtedness of year 2011 graduates of US Veterinary Medical Colleges. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 229, Number 7.
  8. Journal of the AVMA. (2012). Facts & Figures: Employment, starting salaries, and education indebtedness of year 2012 graduates of US Veterinary Medical Colleges. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 241, No 7.
  9. Geller J, Bartels A, Wilson J, Pion P, Commentary A call for internship quality control. JAVMA April 15, 2012 Vol 240 No 8, p. 949-42.
  10. Fanning, J. (2010). Impact of internship on veterinarian salaries, 2009. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 768-769.
  11. 2010 Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study, www.ncvei.org