Why mentorship matters in veterinary practice recruitment

August 31, 2020
Caitlin McCafferty, Assistant Editor
Caitlin McCafferty, Assistant Editor

The benefits of having mentorship culture at your veterinary hospital are many, not the least of which is helping to recruit—and maintain—employees.

Too many young veterinarians are losing their passion for veterinary medicine, according to Adam Conroy, DVM, a partner at MarkRoy Consulting. During his lecture at the Fetch dvm360 virtual conference, Dr. Conroy told attendees that the problem stems in part from the breakdown in the mentorship model.

“The beauty of this profession is that blend of that mentor and mentee relationship, and nowadays there’s a disconnect between those two groups,” said Dr. Conroy. However, real beauty is when mentor and mentee help each other accomplish their personal and professional goals.“It’s a win–win relationship.” He outlined 3 key benefits of having a strong mentorship culture at your veterinary practice.

Recruitment

Having a solid mentorship culture plays a key role in recruitment. Interviewees can tell the difference between a practice that has an established mentorship program with shadowing and externships and one that is just talking the talk. When these recent graduates see that your practice is actually following through with the promise of mentorship, it separates you from other practices, said Dr. Conroy.

“You as an employer sitting down during the interview and talking 25 to 30 minutes about your mentorship program and why it is so important to you—I can promise you, that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack,” said Dr. Conroy.

Extrinsic rewards like a signing bonuses or other perks might help attract recent graduates, but those will only take you so far, he added, especially when it comes to millennial employees. This age group is willing to take a pay cut to be a part of something better, Dr. Conroy said.

Cutting-edge medicine

New graduates come to your practice with knowledge of the latest treatments and procedures. Allow them to give their input and identify their strengths, said Dr. Conroy.

I will be the first to tell you that new grads nowadays are a lot smarter than I was, and they bring a sense of knowledge that makes them such an asset,” said Dr. Conroy, adding that he taps into his younger associates on a daily basis. “They may have just finished an oncology round and there are things you didn’t even know existed,” he said.

Retention

In addition to recruitment, having an established mentoring culture can help you maintain your younger team members, said Dr. Conroy. “It is no coincidence that you see the same people recruiting at these colleges year and after year,” he said. “It is because their turnover is massive and a lot of times the finger can be pointed at the fact there is a lack of mentorship within these organizations.”

Corporations and private practices might be able to attract recent graduates, but without an established mentoring program, they won’t be able to maintain them, said Dr. Conroy.