Student Mentoring Program Overview
MVMA, the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Tufts Veterinary Alumni Association have collaborated to organize a Mentoring Program, in which we match Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine second-year students with willing veterinarian volunteers. Students from other veterinary schools who have connections to New England are welcome to participate as well, as are veterinarians who are members of any of the New England VMAs.
The mentoring program begins in January, the middle of students’ second year, and runs through the middle of their third year in November. This is the period when many questions arise regarding externships, clinical rotations, and their choices within the veterinary profession. We have found that a source outside the school can be extremely valuable for students at this juncture. Some students and mentors agree to continue the relationship after the first year.
During the year, we expect that mentors will keep in contact with their student(s) at least once per month if mutually agreeable. Mentors and mentees may communicate by phone or email. In our experience, we have found that nearly all contact is made by email, so it is now a requirement for participation. Mentors and mentees may wish to meet socially, especially if they have common interests. Mentors may invite mentees to observe and learn at their workplaces and may offer to host an externship.
Some mentors have invited mentees to join them at continuing education conferences and on social occasions, such as the MVMA Awards Dinner. Mentors are not expected to pick up costs for social meetings, though they may wish to do so and, we have seen, often do. MVMA, among others, provides discounted registration fees for students at our CE conferences. As a matter of courtesy, the mentor must make the mentee aware of any costs she or he will be required to pay (e.g., lift tickets, etc., for a ski outing). Mentors are also not expected to pick up their mentees for an in-person meeting.
We discourage mentors from giving advice on a student’s strictly personal problems, financial concerns, or emotional issues. We will provide references to on-campus resources for mentors to use if concerns arise.
If after the initial meeting or during the year either the mentor or mentee finds that our match is not working, they should not hesitate to call the MVMA office. We know that the matching system is not perfect and we will attempt to make a new match. Above all, we want this to be a true learning and growing experience for both the mentee and the mentor.
If you are willing to participate, please fill out a Mentor Registration Form online or print it out and return it to the MVMA office. If a suitable match is made, we will notify you of your student’s name and contact information. We usually have more interested veterinarians than students with whom to match them. We have also found that each year brings increasing interest in unusual practice areas, such as conservation medicine and international veterinary medicine, so we especially welcome volunteers with such experiences or connections. Nonetheless, we know that the bulk of students will eventually join a private clinical small animal practice and we want to have plenty of mentors to help them see into that world.
We look forward to your participation and expect it will be a worthwhile experience for both you and your mentee. If you have questions, please contact the MVMA office.