Veterinarians: Become a pocket mentor

September 26, 2019
Tannetje' Crocker, DVM

If you havent helped mentor a younger vet because you feel like you dont have time, heres an idea you might try.

Alexey Khromushin/stock.adobe.comI recently heard the term “pocket friends.” The phrase explains the phenomenon of a relationship that has only been made over the internet and never cemented in person. I immediately thought, what if the veterinary profession had “pocket mentors” available to young vets?   

Here's the bottom line: We cannot afford to be “too busy” to mentor the next generation of veterinarians. We see the low levels of career satisfaction and burnout in new grads and young vets. We need to step up.

Of course, there aren't many veterinarians who have time to travel to vet schools to meet with students in person. But I believe you do still have time-and an obligation-to reach out to those in our community in other ways. No single veterinarian got where he or she is today without the support of someone else along the way.

For 10 years I have mentored both young vets and vet students; some in person, some online, some for only a snapshot of their journey. I'm often touched at how grateful and vulnerable they are. And at least once a week, someone online reaches out to me looking to be mentored. Young veterinary professionals are out there seeking help to navigate the unknowns of being a veterinarian.

In the past, face-to-face meetings were the ideal for a mentor-mentee relationship. Now, the ability to connect without being in person has become the norm. 

It's as simple as providing an ear to listen, an encouraging text on a difficult day, or direction and advice for career decisions. With texts, DMs, Skype and FB messenger, you can easily interact without being in person. These systems allow us to lay tracks for pocket mentorship.  

We can all agree that veterinarians are some of the most kindhearted, compassionate people. And yet, I think collectively we often think that supporting other, younger vets will drain our energy. But in my experience, the reverse occurs. Forming pocket mentorship relationships gives me an added sense of purpose. It reminds me of the passion and drive I had as a young vet.   

Doing our part to lift one another up is crucial. Why not start now?    

Dr. Tannetje' Crocker worked as a solo equine ambulatory practitioner for three years before transitioning to small animal medicine. She currently practices in Grapevine, Texas at Northwest Animal Hospital and the Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas. In her free time, Dr. Crocker can be found with her family and friends riding horses and enjoying the outdoors. Contact her on Instagram @dr.tannetje.crocker.