Mentoring for better personal health

dvm360dvm360 September 2023
Volume 54
Issue 9
Pages: 54

Veterinary mentoring can support a new graduate’s professional success while also maintaining healthy mental well-being

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Addie R. Reinhard, DVM, MS, founder and CEO of MentorVet, explained that early in her career she experienced burnout, but her mentors were a huge support and helped her get through it. However, she also realized from this experience that not everyone has a great relationship with their mentor, especially when needing support for mental health. Reinhard set out to improve mental health mentoring and teaches attendees at the 2023 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention in Denver, Colorado how to be a better mentor.1

Reinhard started by explaining why mentorship is so important in the veterinary professional, specifically, because of the increased amount of mental health challenges the profession faces. According to a study published in 2019, standard mortality rates for suicide of male and female veterinarians (1.6 and 2.4, respectively) and male and female veterinary technicians or technologists (5.0 and 2.3, respectively) were significantly greater than those for the general US population.2 With this, Reinhard explains that getting emotional support from your mentor is just as significant as getting professional support.

Being a great mentor

Speaking on a previous mentorship experience, Reinhard said, “It was a wonderful, wonderful thing to have somebody that has confidence in you. Sometimes when you don't have confidence in yourself.”

Reinhard recommended that young veterinary professionals should seek support from at least 3 mentors in their early career:

  • a more experienced professional within the workplace (workplace mentor),
  • a fellow early-career professional (peer mentor),
  • and a veterinarian outside of the workplace to provide third party support (external mentor)

She also recommended that workplace mentors should seek additional training in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, as well as how to support the mental health and well-being of mentees through emotional support.1,3

Reinhard explained that “talking with your team about what challenges they're facing, and then let them problem solve and let them come up with solutions” can help individuals not feel alone with their challenges, and instead take full advantage of working with a supportive team.

Overall a great mentor will:1

  • Recognize signs of mental health challenges
  • Help navigate conflict
  • Collaborate in ethical decision making
  • Create safety & inclusivity
  • Encourage & models good self-care

“Have a mentor that's going to be willing to be able to adapt to these situations and help support you and figuring out if you are setting boundaries and how you're coping with the stress in the workplace. Encouraging your mentees to seek out a mental health professional if needed,” Reinhard stated.

She continued by telling mentors to make sure they are periodically asking their mentees: How can I help support you? Or I know some resources that might be good for you, can I share those with you?”


  1. Reinhard A. Mentoring: From good to great. Presented at: AVMA Convention; Denver, Colorado. July 14-18, 2023.
  2. Witte T, Spitzer E, Edwards N, et al. Suicides and deaths of undetermined intent among veterinary professionals from 2003 through 2014. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019;255(5). doi:
  3. Reinhard A. Early career veterinary well-being and solutions to help young veterinarians thrive. Adv Sm An Ca. 2022;3(1). doi:
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