Recently, several of the IVMA officers, our Iowa AVMA Delegates, and I attended the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago. This was an excellent conference. As the name suggests, we did not learn about the latest and greatest treatments for pancreatitis, kidney disease or atopy. Some of the main topics discussed were mental health, governance, team-building, DEI, and mentorship.
Mentorship has always been important to me, so I attended several of the meetings to improve my skills. I also signed up for one of the optional parts of the conference called the Mentor-Mentee Program. I guess since I have more birthdays and more gray hair, I was considered the mentor. I was assigned 2 young individuals with whom to spend some 1-on-1 time. The first was Delaine Quaremsa DVM, MPH. She currently works at the Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health. The second was Immanuel Taylor. Immanuel is an intern for Dr. Delaine and he is currently applying to vet school at Iowa State. Both are vibrant and intelligent young people just starting their careers. We hit it off really well, and I plan to have a long-term relationship with both.
This made me reflect on my early years in the profession. I was lucky to have 2 of the best mentors as my first bosses, Drs. Rex Wilhelm and Dave Schmitt.
Rex and Dave are obviously very intelligent hard-working people. What made them great veterinarians and mentors is that they always took the time to answer my questions. And if I needed help, they were always in my corner. They also were great mentors by letting me make my own mistakes and later having a discussion of how things could be done better. They were very cognizant of their mistakes as well and showed me how not to do things. Eventually, I became Rex's partner for 12 years before he retired. And of course, Dave moved on to be the state veterinarian. Time moves on and we are in different places. However, we still keep in contact on a regular basis. We share information not only on our profession, but also on our personal lives and families.
We have been fortunate to host many students from various universities and hired several associates at our clinic throughout the years. Rex said we should have started a scrapbook with pictures of all the people and places they were from.
I frequently connect with Dr. Rachel Friedrich who now works in Field Services for Iowa State. We still share clients and have good discussions about cases and our families. Last week, I chatted with Dr. Maggie Hoenig- Harrell. She spent time with us over 15 years ago. She just wanted to check in and ask "How's Rex? " We caught up on our lives and wished each other well.
I am running out of space, but I have more to say next month about mentorship. I could write a whole book. The takeaway message is mentorship is so worth the time you put in for both parties. We often forget how even the little things can make a big impact on someone's life. Mentorship Matters.
Until next month,
Dr. Shawn Nicholson