Setting Clear Goals for Successful Veterinary Mentorship

Knowing what you want and getting the right mentor is critical. Set yourself up for mentorship success by exploring these three questions.

In our previous article on mentorship, we looked at making sure you are ready to do the work through both taking action and implementing the knowledge and advice imparted during a mentee/mentor relationship. This next article in the series examines what it is that you want to achieve from your relationship with the mentor, and also what kind of mentor you are looking for.

There’s a lot to consider when finding a mentor. They’re all individuals like ourselves after all, and have unique strengths and skills that may or may not be suited to you. For example, you might be expecting a mentor to teach you veterinary business principles so that one day you can open your own hospital. But that person may:

  • Not actually know how to do that despite appearing on the outside that they do
  • Not be able to teach it to you, as it was previously set up by someone else when they bought the business
  • They also may not want to share that private knowledge until you have gained their trust and demonstrated loyalty
  • They may appear successful on the outside, but the rest of their personal life is struggling

Knowing what you want and getting the right mentor is critical for successful veterinary mentorship, as without it could be a fast track to failure. That’s why we emphasise the importance of getting clear about what you want. Set yourself up for mentorship success by considering the following questions:

successful veterinary mentorship nurses with dog and catheter

1. What is it you want to achieve?

This is the most critical detail for you to determine before you go out searching for your mentor. Why? Because without clearly defining that for yourself, how do you know that you have found the right mentor? Set yourself clear, measurable, and achievable goals to ensure that you find an appropriate mentor that can help you achieve them.

2. What kind of mentor do you want for successful veterinary mentorship?

Now that you have determined what you are wanting to achieve, what kind of mentor are you looking for? When considering this, don’t just look for the most successful people, look for the ones that demonstrate qualities that you want to one day demonstrate for yourself. Those who are hard-working, passionate, genuine, and possess excellent communication skills.

It is best to steer away from potential mentor figures simply based on popularity or skillset, as they may not demonstrate all that you are looking for. Find a mentor that you respect for both what they have accomplished and for who they are. Do their values, mindset, and interests align with yours? When initially searching for potential mentors, watch them closely and think whether that is the kind of veterinarian you would like to be.

3. What is it that you are expecting from them?

What does the standard mentee and mentoring relationship actually look like? Most relationships involve a formal or informal discussion for 1 to 2 hours once a month. In addition, successful relationships will involve regular follow up emails or texts to keep them updated with your progress, your hurdles, and your milestones.

Does this arrangement meet your expectations for successful veterinary mentorship? If not, then what you are looking for may not be a traditional mentoring relationship. If you happen to work with your mentor, then there may be informal interactions at work, but you should still take the time to arrange a more formal meeting scheduled one a month.

Heading into a mentoring relationship with these three clear goals in mind will dramatically improve your odds of success. Now that you’ve set clear goals for mentorship and know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s time to figure out how to approach a mentor and “master the ask” in our next article.

Want to explore more about the areas you are seeking mentorship in? Or explore the veterinary challenges you’re either tackling now or maybe in the future? Sign up to our mentoring series for your tailored mentoring program to ensure you achieve a successful veterinary mentor relationship.

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