So who is it for? It is open to anyone who feels they would benefit from having someone to talk to, to advise them and to help in whatever way is appropriate for their situation.

It was initially set up for new graduates, to provide support as they move from the ‘relative’ safety, security and support of university into the world of general practice. Leaving behind the safety net of tutors etc. who make those final important decisions, to being the one responsible for it all, with the highs and lows that go with that.

However, it is very much open to anyone, whether students, new and young graduates, or those who have been in practice for many years, but for one reason or another would benefit from some help for a while.

The role of a mentor is very much like that of a stake planted next to a young tree. It is there to provide help and support during those early stages when the plant is becoming established, setting down roots of its own and becoming strong enough to stand tall and straight. It’s there to help take the strain when external events are extreme, such as high winds, when things come along which can damage the roots.

But why would anyone need a mentor? It’s easy to see how a plant can be broken, damaged or deformed by strong winds and rough weather, and how adverse conditions, if unsupported, even much later on, could cause it to become uprooted.

We are all too aware of those things which can damage and uproot us such as the extreme tiredness of long days and nights on duty, especially early on when it seems that all you can do is work, eat and sleep, and so many other things, including God, get pushed aside. Client expectations of instant answers, instant cures and the constant battle between keeping both employer and client satisfied re costs. Dealing with the sudden and unexpected death of a patient or the animal that fails to get better despite your very best efforts to name just a few. Sadly this may not just be confined to the early days in practice.

So where do you find a mentor, or how do you become one? Providing a listening ear, a prayerful heart and words of encouragement are hopefully things that we all feel we would be able to do, whether on a formal mentoring basis, or something more ad hoc, maybe just involving an occasional email or call. There are a number of options to choose.

For some, the best method may be using the VCF list of mentors and matching the right people together. For others, a more informal system may be better, such as:

  1. Regional Groups, or, if there is no regional group in the area, then perhaps just knowing of other Christian vets locally and getting to know them. If you are qualified, whether still practicing as a vet or not, would you be happy for others locally, either students, new graduates or those who have been qualified for some time, to know that you are there?
  2. Conferences, where folk can meet face to face and get to know one another. It allows the opportunity to find folk in the area and type of practice that is of interest and to see if you get along.
  3. Seeing Practice/EMS Database. Where students are able to meet and work with vets already in practice, to build up relationships and trust. We will look more at the EMS database in a future newsletter.

Mentors are not necessarily forever. Going back to the stake and the tree, once the tree is strong enough, the stake is no longer needed. And the amazing thing is that when that tree is strong enough, its branches can then be used as stakes to support the growth of others.

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” Matthew 12:20