Schaumburg, Ill. — After a year in the planning stages, the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) mentoring program went live, but it's been a challenge to obtain widespread participation, officials report.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — After a year in the planning stages, the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) mentoring program went live, but it's been a challenge to obtain widespread participation, officials report.
Dr. Ron Cott
Despite lengthy studies showing benefits of a mentoring program, obtaining interest from veterinarians and students has been difficult, says Dr. Ron Cott, chair of the program and associate dean for student and alumni affairs at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.
"Being part of the program is a commitment, so its difficult to get people to sign up, but I also think information on the program needs to circulate."
Though the program has been operational for a few months and has gained some steam on the mentor side, those interested in being mentored is only one-fifth of the total number interested in the program.
The association has contracted a sponsor, enabling the association to spread the word of the program's benefits first-hand.
Although the program is owned by AVMA, a sponsor will help market the program and fund travel expenses for Cott as he visits colleges and conferences recruiting interested members.
The program was initiated to help veterinarians and veterinary students of all ages network with each other.
"There is no age limit as to who can be a mentor or receive advice from another veterinarian," Cott says. "People often refer to the program as a student getting advice from a veterinarian, but actually a 50-year-old veterinarian could get advice from a 28-year-old if the situation fits."
The AVMA model mentoring task force was developed to implement the value of mentoring to members, with the initial stipulation that the association must obtain 500 interested DVMs to start the process of matching mentors and mentees; the association currently has approximately 500 mentoring veterinarians and 100 mentees.
The national program is 100-percent electronically driven and private, Cott says. Those interested in the program must login to the association's home page and fill out a questionnaire to begin the matching process.
"The program is only open to AVMA members and student members," Cott adds.
Feedback has been mostly positive, but some say the program isn't user-friendly, Cott says. AVMA serves mainly as a catalyst connecting one person to another. The association does not guarantee or research the participants, and a disclaimer is clearly displayed for those interested in the program.
"More recent interests in the program come from students interested in learning more about various industries," Cott says. "People ask questions about the military, industry, USDA and other up-andcoming fields in the profession."
For more information about the program, visit http://mentoring.avma.org.