VetBooks Founder Martin Traub-Werner and me, Dr. Dani Rabwin, at dinner.

Much of my growth as a mentor, speaker, business owner, and veterinarian can be attributed to my willingness to tap into others’ knowledge—to humble myself, often to the point of imposter syndrome, and seek their input and perspective. Continuing that tradition, I invited 10 industry leaders to an informal dinner during the VMX conference to discuss the future of mentorship.

Our conversation was so enlightening that—months later—I’m still reeling. Despite their varied backgrounds and affiliations, attendees shared similar thoughts, concerns, visions, and goals. I found their insights and observations so beneficial, generous, and enthusiastic about the advancement of our profession that—following their example—I had to share them here with my own audience.

A seat at the table: Takeaways from the discussion

Distilling this discussion into one single blog post isn’t easy, so I decided to share their remarks anonymously, and in their own words.

Sharing our knowledge

Multiple attendees spoke passionately about the need for greater transparency and collaboration in how we structure and provide mentorship.

  • “A rising tide lifts all ships. We don’t need to operate from a scarcity mindset and keep our mentorship support ideas a secret. There is plenty of room for everyone to learn from each other and support veterinarians at every level of their careers.”
  • “More frequent discussions between various groups regarding best [mentorship] practices can help us raise the bar on the veterinary profession.”
  • “We’re in this together. Regardless of our organization or our roles, we need to be open to sharing and supporting each other to make a positive impact on mentorship in our profession”

Compensating mentors

Attendees agreed that mentors should be compensated for their time, knowledge, and effort. Support for mentors can ensure more sustainable mentorship that is equally rewarding for both parties.

  • Mentor compensation is necessary for follow-through, but how mentors are compensated varies.”
  • “We need new payment models to support mentorship. Consider the mentor-mentee combined production and various ways to appropriately divide that compensation.”

Setting expectations for mentors, mentees, and the practice

My guests agreed that establishing clear expectations for all parties is essential for everyone’s success and well-being.

  • “Boundaries must be set for how the mentor and mentee will deliver. [This includes a] mentorship agreement made between the mentor and mentee.”
  • “We need to find the best way to tackle resistance to mentorship from experienced veterinarians … how we support mentorship and build a culture of expectations around it. For example, [we need to] understand that the primary mentor does not have to be the mentor on all things.”

Expanding mentorship to all professional levels

Many attendees spoke about broadening the mentorship definition and application beyond new graduates and early career veterinarians to provide greater access to learning and development.

  • The need for mentorship at all experience levels within the practice is being noted, and programs are expanding to meet that need.”
  • There’s an important opportunity for more continuous support and development for all veterinarians, regardless of where they are on their professional journey.”

Suggested mentorship metrics and key performance indicators

The future of mentorship requires measuring our successes and failures. The remainder of our discussion centered on the significance of such key performance indicators (KPIs) and those that might be most advantageous for program development and mentee success.

  • Productivity — This category included standard metrics, such as average transactions, appointments per day, monthly revenue, and time to ramp (i.e., “the point where they are generating enough revenue to cover their salary.”) Another productivity measure focused on quality instead of time or profit, by assessing productivity “from the standpoint of being able to manage medical and clinical cases” with confidence, quality, and efficiency. 
  • Retention rate — “Mentorship should equate to better engagement and retention.” Tracking mentee retention over time can provide insight into job satisfaction, comfort, and clinical confidence. 
  • Mentee engagement — Monitoring program involvement (e.g., attendance in virtual or in-person meetings), setting and achieving self-directed clinical or professional goals, building confidence, and interacting with resources demonstrates a commitment to the mentorship process and suggests that the mentee finds it beneficial.
  • Mentee satisfaction — Surveys, feedback forms, and polls were suggested methods for evaluating the mentee’s experience and to evaluate mentor satisfaction. One attendee suggested using a Likert scale question, such as, “How likely are you to recommend XYZ Mentorship Program to a friend or colleague?”

Pull up a chair and join the conversation

I’ll admit, before my guests arrived, I had some serious second thoughts about this dinner. Would anyone show up? Would anyone say anything? Would they think I was trying to ride on their success or expect me to end the night with a slick Ready, Vet, Go sales pitch? 

But when everyone DID arrive and was seated, no one was suspicious or reluctant, but the exact opposite. These people embodied the spirit of mentorship—they were generous with their knowledge, eager to listen, and always thinking how they could improve the journey for those coming next. What I found, yet again, was moments of beauty, power, and growth—for myself, for Ready, Vet, Go, and for the future of veterinary medicine—in the wisdom of others.

Ready to join the conversation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve and expand veterinary mentorship. Simply share your information and comments on our contact page.

Ready, Vet, Go Veterinary Mentorship is an innovative online program and community that helps new and early career veterinarians build confidence, gain independence, and experience greater joy. Visit our FAQ page to learn more about what we offer or get in touch with our team

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