AVA Mentors: putting the ‘you’ in thank you

02 Dec 2021

We have said it time and time again; the veterinary profession is collegial, supportive, and compassionate. This really comes to light each year, when we put out a call for mentors to join the AVA Graduate Mentoring Program – and let’s not forget our long-standing mentors, who have been involved since we first established the national program in October 2015. 

AVA Mentors, we thank you for your dedication to helping others, for providing a sounding board, a safe space to share concerns, and for your guidance and wisdom. 

“I joined the mentor program because I still enjoy being a clinical vet after more than two decades in the profession. I think new graduates nowadays have a tougher time transitioning into practice, mainly as clients have more expectations and vets don’t get to switch off because everyone is connected all the time! I encourage my mentees to develop a good work-life balance, find their passion as a vet and develop confidence within their new position. I admire the enthusiasm of my past mentees, and I always learn new things from them as well!” - Dr Ildiko Plaganyi (AVA Mentor since 2018)

“I had two motivations for joining the program. Firstly, when I graduated in 2005 there was no formal mentoring program for veterinarians. In hindsight, however, I benefited from a mosaic of different people – veterinarians and non-veterinarians – who mentored me. I don’t know how I could have coped without those veterinary fairy god-persons in my life, and I don’t think anyone should have to. So, I signed up. 

"Secondly, I run a University-based mentoring program for final year DVM students. We work closely with the AVA, and I’ve been involved in this program since its inception. I believe that University mentoring programs and the AVA mentoring program are complimentary” - Dr Anne Quain (AVA Mentor since 2015) 

“I signed up for the mentoring program after an information day at the Melbourne Veterinary School - this was the beginning of the national mentoring program. The speakers at the information day included veterinarians from Western Australia, who had been involved with the mentoring scheme in operation there, which had been running for a number of years. It sounded like a very worthwhile program. 

It is good to be involved with helping recent graduates starting out in their career, and helping them in any way that you can” - Dr Joe Brady (AVA Mentor 2015) 

I've become a mentor to give back to our wonderful veterinary community and help share my love for our profession, as well as the importance of mental wellbeing and work-life balance. Often what you do outside work is as important for your job as the medical decisions you make at work. I want to share my experience of some of the amazing opportunities our profession can bring us - Dr Kara Altman (2015 Mentee, AVA Mentor 2020) 

"I have been practicing as a veterinarian for 40 years.  I love my job, but all these years of experience have taught me to put it into perspective. We all have self-doubtand have times when we feel what we do is unappreciated and undervalued, so offering to mentor the next generation can be a way to pass on some experience and be a non-judgemental sounding board. This profession has been very good to me, so mentoring is a way I can give something back" - Dr Geeta Saini (AVA Mentor 2020) 

I believe that mentoring is a big part of the transition from a veterinary student to a full-fledged veterinarian. Whether it was in an official capacity or not, I have always mentored younger veterinarians that I am working with. However, I also believe that there may be areas where conflicts of interest exist if a mentor was someone working in the same practice. The Graduate Mentoring Program was an avenue that allowed me to continue mentoring graduates while avoiding the potential conflicts of interest. There was also a lack of oversea mentors, and I am able to connect with graduates who have taken the big step of taking a job outside of Australia. These graduates face unique challenges of having to adapt (or re-adapt) to a culture on top of all the usual stressors - Dr Shangzhe Xie (AVA Mentor 2015) 

We see our mentoring program as a powerful means to longer-term professional and personal development, a key step in our plans to build a sustainable an effective veterinary workforce. This could not be achieved without the generous support of our mentors. THANK YOU, from your profession.  

Monika Cole (Executive Officer Veterinary Business and Early Career Groups) 

The AVA Graduate Mentoring Program is proudly sponsored by our long-standing supporters, Guild Insurance, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Provet.