We cannot afford to be “too busy” to mentor the next generation of veterinarians. We are seeing low career satisfaction and burnout in new grads and young vets. We need to step up. The old excuse that we are too busy, is negated by the influx of technology and social media into our lives.

I recently heard the term “pocket friends.” It indicates a friendship that has only been made over the internet and never cemented in person. I propose we expand veterinary mentorship to include “pocket mentors.”

Many of us do not have time to travel to veterinary school to meet with students in person. I believe you do still have time, and an obligation to reach out to those in our community in other ways. Not one of us veterinarians got where we are today without the support of someone else along the way. Now it is our turn.

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. It has touched me how grateful and vulnerable they are. Weekly someone reaches out to me online looking to be mentored. Young veterinary professionals are seeking a mentor to help them navigate the unknowns of being a veterinarian.

In the past face to face meetings was the ideal for a mentor-mentee relationship. Now the ability to connect without being in person has become the norm. I could go as far as to say that the younger generation prefers a more electronic way of communicating.

It is as simple as providing an ear to listen, an encouraging text on a difficult day, or direction and advice for career decisions. With the advent of email, text messages, DMs, Skype, and FB messenger you can easily interact without being in person.

The veterinary industry is known to have some of the most kindhearted compassionate people. We often think that pouring into others will drain us of energy. Instead when you mentor another, you quickly realize that the reverse occurs. By forming relationships and feeding into someone else we experience an added sense of purpose. It reminds us of the passion and drive we had as young vets.

Let’s each do our part to lift one another up and I promise you will reap a benefit you did not know existed.