IN DEPTH: One Health mentorships
International Student One Health Alliance pilot mentorship program
In veterinary school, I was among a handful of peers interested in pursuing nontraditional veterinary career paths. We often rallied our classmates to recognize the application of One Health frameworks in our future careers; we were trained in a unique profession in which we could become advocates for or experts in food safety, regulatory medicine, One Health, ecosystem health, and the human-animal bond even within the walls of a small animal clinical exam room. I am grateful for the solid mentors who helped prepare me for becoming such an advocate; these were clinical veterinarians without additional public health training and non-veterinarian researchers who studied zoonotic diseases.
This winter, the International Student One Health Alliance (ISOHA) put out a call for One Health mentors in its pilot mentorship program. Formerly Students for One Health, ISOHA works with and is supported by the One Health Commission, an organization intended to create networks and build community among students and professionals interested in One Health. ISOHA promotes global One Health opportunities for students, and facilitates multidisciplinary outreach, education, and collaboration.
The pilot mentorship program matched high school, undergraduate, graduate, medical, and veterinary students with One Health professionals who have similar career interests. ISOHA recommended that the mentee and mentor meet via video conference three times between January and May to discuss networking opportunities, career guidance, and current One Health challenges.
Mutually beneficial networking
ISOHA matched me with pre-veterinary mentee who has just completed her junior year of college and is currently preparing her veterinary school applications. Our first meeting in January reminded me of a reunion of old friends with shared passions instead of a formal mentorship. She was so prepared, enthusiastic, and well read during this first call that I had to remind myself that this was not a seasoned colleague, but an undergraduate student hungry to learn where her future could take her.
My mentee’s engagement in this mentee-driven partnership helped us cover a lot of ground; her prepared talking points and questions fostered conversation about pre-veterinary and veterinary internship and externship opportunities in public health policy, regulatory medicine, clinical practice, and preventive medicine. We reviewed and edited her resume and discussed how to develop both a strong personal statement and effective interview skills. We often talked about other topics or current events in One Health (including her thoughts on these Weekly News articles!). I’m both thrilled and reassured to know that someone so early in her career is already a One Health advocate.
Although the pilot mentoring period has ended, my mentee and I have decided to continue our mentorship as she prepares for her final year of college. This program has challenged me to expand my One Health thinking, enabled me to network with an enthusiastic future colleague, and prepared me for an important transition in my own career from a mentored private practitioner to an aspiring leader in public health.
Establishing a mentorship
My mentors in veterinary school, clinical practice, and this residency have helped develop my skills in risk communication, staff management, critical thinking, and data analysis through their support and shared personal experiences. Although formal mentorships do not suit everyone, mine have established networks and learning opportunities that supplemented my veterinary education and prepared me with the soft skills to navigate my career more confidently.
ISOHA’s pilot mentorship program will hopefully continue to connect students around the world with One Health professionals. For readers seeking mentorships within their own fields and networks, consider making the ask for a mutually agreed upon, mentee-driven, goal-oriented partnership.
Future mentors: Consider leadership workshops or continuing education seminars for tips on becoming a patient, supportive, and engaged mentor. Learn the difference between being a manager versus a mentor and find inspiration in collaborating with someone eager to learn from you and your experiences.
Future mentees: Set clear, realistic expectations and don’t be afraid to ask someone to be a mentor. A “no” may lead to other connections that are ultimately more resourceful than the first. Know what you want out of a mentorship and help make it happen.
Who’s Who in One Health
- Want to know more about what students are up to in your region? Check out this Who’s Who in Students for One Health map to see how you can become engaged!
- Already know about those groups and want to connect these students with more opportunities? Check out Who’s Who in One Health for information on academic, governmental, private, and non-profit organizations.
Questions, comments, feedback about today's Weekly Update? Please email Dr. Lauren Bernstein.
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