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Tools and Resources: Mentorship Toolkit Resources

Introduction and Overview of Toolkit

Evolution & Support for Mentorship

This section provides background information on the forces driving the economy and the support for mentorship programs and guidelines. The White Paper publishes the findings from the VetPartners™- AAHA - National VBMA survey of veterinary practices that helped determine and measure what is absent in current mentee-mentor relationships and needed for success. That research helped guide the organization, structure, detail and accountability that appears in all of the tools in the Mentorship Toolkit. The AAHA Standards for mentorship programs and JAVMA announcement of their existence acknowledge the importance of the mentorship movement.
  • Mentorship Program Toolkit White Paper
    This is a white paper covering the need for mentorship programs and the results of a survey done by AAHA that gathered data and opinions on mentorship from both veterinary students and practice owners. It is clear from the data that the mentorship program concept is attractive to both the veterinarians who are or will be mentors and the new graduates who will become their mentees.
  • Executive summary
    This is the summary version of the longer “White Paper.”
  • Mentorship Toolkit Overview PowerPoint (Coming Soon)
  • AVMA Veterinary Workforce Report
    This 97 page document was published by the AVMA and reports on a study of the number and employment sector mix of veterinarians and projections of future workforce needs, emphasizing a growing problem with an oversupply of veterinarians. It is useful for background information on the need for veterinary mentorship programs.
  • JAVMA Announcement: AAHA accrediting internship and mentorship programs
  • AAHA Standards

Knowing When to Hire

In order for a mentee-mentor relationship to be successful, it is necessary for the practice to be in good financial health. Knowing when it is appropriate and having the capability to hire a new associate is the first step to creating a thriving, long-term relationship with associates.
  • Can I afford to Hire a Veterinarian? (Coming Soon)
    Brief overview of the topic of when it’s time to hire an associate, and some resources for data that will be helpful for making this decision.
  • Can I afford to Hire a Veterinarian? Spreadsheet (Coming Soon)
    This spreadsheet allows practice owners to plug in data from your own practice to determine whether you can really afford to hire an associate.

Resources for Mentors

During the development of this Toolkit, the first tools were focused on ways to introduce, improve and generate successful mentoring relationships. They include structured, accountable template documents with a “clickable” self evaluation, mentee and mentor skill evaluation program. The objective was to move mentorship from more than a statement of, “Sure, I’ll be there when you need me,” to a formalized process. The tools in this section are provided to aid mentors as they seek to become increasingly effective. They include: published articles, template consent forms and sample performance appraisals.

Resources for Mentees

These tools provide language that can be used as templates in cover letters to introduce the subject of mentorship and this Toolkit to veterinary employers. A checklist is included for students/mentees to lead a discussion on the subject during the interview process. Included are consent forms that are required for preceptees/mentees to perform surgery in some states and that mentors in others can use to pave the way for surgery on client owned animals by mentees who are far enough along in their education to legally develop this skill.

Objective: open doors to a discussion of a mentored summer employment relationship for an undergraduate or a mentorship employment contract post graduation.

Intent: allows students to see if employers would be interested in more information on this subject.

Action: allows employers to be introduced and directed to this website.

  • Long cover letter
  • Short cover letter
  • Introducing Veterinary Student Preceptees/Externs to Clients
  • Consent for Preceptee/Extern to Perform Unassisted Surgery
  • A Checklist for New Associate Orientation
  • Recommended Resources Focusing on Communications for Mentors and Mentees
  • Appreciative Inquiry:  One of the tools you can use to implement change is Appreciative Inquiry. This handout introduces the concept and gives a few examples. The worksheet at the end helps to apply the concept to the veterinary school environment. The concept is also a good one to use for team meetings in practices.
  • Business Assessment Form: This handout is a tool that students can use to inquire about the financial health and management of a practice, both through personal observation and by interviewing the practice owner (or their designee). It can be used in an externship experience or when evaluating a job position.
  • Call Backs:  This handout describes the importance of performing client call backs and gives scripts and protocols for doing so.
  • Choose a Good Practice:  Outline from a lecture by Dr. Nan Boss on how to choose a great practice for externship, internship or to work in after graduation. What questions should you ask and why? What things should you be thinking about that you may not have considered?
  • Communicating Medical Information to Clients:  Your communication skills will make or break you all during your professional career. These tips and techniques can make you shine in the exam room. For a condensed version to print out and carry in your lab coat pocket or on a clipboard, see the Wellness Wallet Card document.
  • Communication Gone Wrong:  This handout is meant to be used as a group exercise for discussion. It introduces some common, real life situations that might occur in a veterinary hospital and provides questions about what went wrong and how the situation could have been prevented. What should you do to avoid miscommunication with a client, and what should you do if it’s already “Gone wrong”?
  • Communication in Conflict:  This is another handout is meant to be used as a group exercise for discussion. It introduces some common, real life situations that might occur in a veterinary hospital and provides questions about what went wrong and how the situation could have been prevented. This time the focus is on conflict within the veterinary team. What should you do to avoid conflict with your coworkers?
  • Identifying and Working with Conflict
  • Emotional Intelligence Exercise:  Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand yourself and others, and the ability to use that understanding in your work and private life. The 5 capabilities of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy and effective relationships. Your EQ is usually much more important than your IQ when it comes to being a success or failure at work, at home, or on a committee or team of people. This handout explains the basics of EQ theory.
  • Estimates:  Putting estimates together and presenting them to clients is a basic skill you’ll need every day in practice, but it’s rarely taught in school. Here’s what you need to know.
  • Ethics in Veterinary Medicine:  Ethical dilemmas occur all the time in veterinary medicine. The public has a very high regard for veterinarians and veterinary staff members. We consistently rank at the top for the most trusted professionals or professions. It is everyone’s job to uphold and maintain high ethical standards, to keep this high regard for both our profession at large and our hospital in particular. What constitutes unethical behavior and how can we avoid it?
  • Increase Your Collaborative Influence:  When IBM sought to transform the direction of the company in 2002, it identified 33 executives who were considered the best future leaders of the companies given its new direction. They came from all over the world, from every part of the business, with an extraordinary ability to get the job done. Researchers studied these 33 successful executives to determine what skills would need to be taught to the next generations of company leaders. All 33 were adept at a skill IBM calls “collaborative influence.” It is the ability to get things done by getting people to collaborate with each other, and IBM considers it absolutely critical in a highly complex world. How does this apply to veterinary medicine and what can we learn from it?
  • Politics in the Practice:  Good managers and leaders are able to understand and influence office politics. All organizations have politics – they have weak and strong members as far as power to make decisions or to influence the team. They also have people who have or don’t have influence over other people in the practice. Much of our success with other team members in private practice is based on our ability to understand and work within the power structure. Although most of us don’t think of ourselves as playing games or manipulating others, in fact we human beings do this naturally, and often unconsciously, all the time. This handout teaches you some basics on political structures in business and provides discussion questions to explore with others or on your own.
  • Politics in the Practice Group Exercise
  • Standing Up for Yourself:  The veterinary teaching hospitals are scrambling to improve their programming to meet these needs. Some schools have made many curriculum changes as a result and others are further behind. Many times the students themselves can help to drive these changes and to improve their implementation. VBMA chapters can be particularly effective at working for change in their schools. Working for change takes strength, skill and a positive outlook. You may find that when you work together in a positive fashion to implement sensible, simple changes, you’ll be able to accomplish quite a bit.
  • Tid Bits & Statistics to Help With Client Education
  • Wellness Wallet Cards:  These handy cards can be laminated and carried in your pocket or on a clipboard. They will help to remind you of what to say or do for 10 different situations involving wellness and communications, including obtaining a history, communicating medical information or calling the client up after the pet goes home. Don’t go on clinics without them!
  • What About Wellness?:   Because most veterinary teaching hospital patients are presented for serious problems or referrals, and also because the professors are boarded specialists, wellness and preventative care get short shrift in vet school. Unfortunately, this means students graduate unprepared for the world of general practice, where two thirds of the patient visits are for routine and wellness services. Annual examinations, vaccination visits, heartworm testing, puppies and kittens, dentistry and elective surgery make up most of our business. Here’s what you need to know about this critical area of practicing medicine. 

Mentee Skills, Mentor Assessments and Goals Worksheets

Mentors make a significant investment when hiring associates and agreeing to become mentors. These extensive skill based worksheets are the framework of the Mentorship Toolkit, allowing mentors and mentees to set goals and track their completion over the months following the hiring process.
  • Utilizing the Mentee Skills and Mentor Goals Worksheets
    Overview and explanation of how to use the lists of goals and expectations set forth in the skills worksheets.
  • Mentee Skills Worksheet
    This version is designed for students who wish to use the list as a guide for developing the necessary skills during school as well as for Mentees who are seeking a printable version of the skills inventory list.

Compensation Recommendations

Mentors make significant time and monetary investments when hiring associates and becoming effective mentors. This resource ensures all that parties are aware of the time invested. It provides ideas for graduated levels of compensation that would be adjusted as the mentees' skills and efficiencies grow.
  • Mentorship Program_Compensation Recommendations
    Introduction to the concept of staged compensation as one of the options for practices to consider when hiring and new graduate veterinarian. Several versions and examples are presented.
  • Key Performance Indicators Worksheet
    Introduction to the Key Performance Indicators spreadsheet that tracks a new associate's production and other benchmark numbers.
  • Student Loan vs Wage Worksheet
    Explains how to use the worksheet to create a budget for yourself by plugging in your wages, deductions and students loans allowing you to calculate your actual take-home pay.

Mentorship Surveys

Please fill out this survey toward the end of your structured mentorship experience! We want to hear from both mentors and mentees how and whether this website and the included documents served you during your own mentorship experience, so we can make improvements. We also want to be able to track national data on the production of new graduates who received mentoring and those who did not.
  • Coming soon

Recommended References

This list contains suggested reading to help both mentor and mentee to make their mentorship program a success, including books on communication for both mentors and mentees, coaching for mentors and client education for mentees.