Mentorship is a word you hear a lot, but I know there was a time when I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. With time, I have realized that mentorship doesn’t really have a clear definition, because it means something different to each person. In general though, a mentor is someone you can learn from, someone you can count on to advise you in personal and professional matters, someone who cares about you and your personal growth, and much more.
As I’ve journeyed farther through vet school, I realize the importance that mentors play in the life of a young professional. I count myself very lucky to have two great mentors who play a large role in my life. They give me advice of all kinds and are always there to answer questions I have for school and thinking to my professional life beyond. Both have taken a personal interest in seeing that I learn hands-on skills and techniques as well. For one, that means maybe taking a little longer during a dog or cat spay or neuter to provide explanations and an opportunity for me to learn better techniques. For the other one, it means spending his Saturday morning with me in a barn (often with a horse blowing snot all over him) so that I can learn how to perform joint injections, improve my rectal palpation skills, and pass a nasogastric tube.
I’ve learned a lot in the classroom, but one of the most important things I am learning is far away from the classroom with my mentors. It is confidence. The confidence it takes to walk into a barn alone at 2:00 am and treat a colicy horse, or the confidence it takes to know you can hit the joint space on a horse the first time. For that I am eternally grateful. That’s something you can’t learn in the classroom. It comes with time and patient teachers who care enough to invest the extra time and effort in you.