A mentor’s view of the VetGDP
I am always inspired by the energy, optimism and enthusiasm that new graduates have as they enter the next chapter of their lives. They are thirsty to get stuck in and put everything they’ve learned into practice. Their emotions of enthusiasm, excitement and pride combined with trepidation are probably no different from those of a new graduate 40 years ago, but there is a difference between then and now. Today’s new graduates are very well informed on the choices available to them, for example, of what type of practice they first work in. They seek out and expect the sort of support and structure that they are used to from education, as well as the new-found freedom to become the vet they aspire to be.
This isn’t about holding new graduates’ hands; often we learn the greatest lessons when we have to go it alone. I see the role of the VetGDP adviser as one of making sure graduates have room to breathe and make clinical decisions by themselves, while at the same time knowing that support is there should they need it. What’s so useful in my role as a mentor for XLVets is having regular catch ups with the graduates I support, with opportunities for two-way feedback. This scheduled, guaranteed time to have an honest conversation, ask open questions and really listen to the graduate, is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do, as it can help build confidence, wellbeing and job satisfaction.
New graduates emerge from a long period in education where structure, support and regular feedback is the norm, so it can be hard for them to lose this suddenly. This, in addition to all the other big life changes, such as moving away from friends and family, only adds to all the usual stresses of starting a new chapter, so the VetGDP will be so helpful in smoothing the transition from vet school to the workplace. It will also provide an opportunity for the employer to know how things are going, check how the team and business is adapting to the new graduate, and find out what their areas of need are.
Overall, I am really pleased that this fresh graduate development programme is being launched and provided for the profession, and the signs are very encouraging that it is being embraced and seen as a universal good – for new graduates, for established vets and for veterinary businesses.
I can’t emphasise enough how often as a mentor I’ve witnessed the benefits of taking the time to listen, process and plan with someone. I know it can be hard to find time in a busy rota, but investing time and effort into those you employ, particularly if they are new to the profession, will pay dividends in aiding recruitment, retention and wellbeing. We look forward to wholeheartedly embracing the VetGDP in the XLVet community – it’s an exciting time!
About the author
Charlotte Moody graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2012 and currently works as a mentor for XLVets, a community of independent veterinary practices. In this role, she is responsible for supporting member practices to provide mentoring for their team members. She also acts as an external mentor for individuals, mostly new graduates, and has recently signed up to train as a VetGDP adviser.
This article was originally published in Vet Record, 8/15 May 2021, vol 188, p 340