Have You Thanked a Mentor Lately?

by Rebecca on December 2, 2013

Thank mentorIn 1992, I got to meet someone who turned out to be a huge influence in my life.

I can tell you without a doubt, I would have never become a surgeon if I had never met Rick Doran.  I was a young veterinary student and he was an equine surgeon in the prime of his career.  He saw something in me that I was not even capable of seeing myself.

Actually, before I worked with Rick, I hated surgery after having to assist my dad.  My dad, like many old school vets, was one of those instrument throwing, yelling types, and I wanted no part of that.

Working with Rick enabled me to see that there was another way.  He was so talented yet so humble. Looking back in all the hours I spent working with him, I never saw him ticked off to be called in late at night or take out frustrations on anyone he worked with.  The only time I saw him get angry at all is if a patient died.

He was the first surgeon I worked with who was so talented yet so compassionate.  There was never any doubt that though he had a tough job (on call-24/7, 365 days a year) he loved what he did.

Rick never had to do all the things for me that he did-I was just one of many, many veterinary students who came through his practice.  Luckily, for me he took me under his wing and molded me into the surgeon I am today and for that I am eternally grateful.

After I switched from large animal to small animal surgery, Rick and I lost touch.  We would see each other at meetings but as you know, life gets busy.

A few years ago I had a feeling that I just could not shake.  Rick probably knew how much he made a difference in my life but I wanted to send him a note thanking him for all he did for me.  Honestly, it felt a little awkward but I did it anyway.

That note turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.  Unbeknownst to me, about the time Rick received that note, he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  What a cruel disease and especially to affect such a vibrant man in the prime of his life.  I actually did not even find out he had ALS until about 2 years later and in April of this year, Rick passed away.

I am so thankful I took the time to tell him how much he meant to me and that I would not have been where I am today if he had not allowed me to stand on his shoulders.

Who is that person for you?

Who is someone you know that, without a doubt, if he or she had not been there for you-you would not be were you are today?

Why don’t you take 10 minutes this week and send them a real hand-written note (emailing and texting do not count) thanking them for all they did for you.  I guarantee it will make your day, and even more importantly it will make theirs!

 Who is That Person You Need to Thank This Week?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Vet Changes World December 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

So important, so many people who have helped make us who we are, this is a nudge to give some of them a call and let them know I was thinking of them! Thanks for the inspiration.


Rebecca December 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

I am glad I gave you the jump start- thanks for commenting!!


Elliott Garber December 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thanks for sharing this story. There have been so many vets along the way who have played key roles in my own formation, and I know I haven’t expressed my thanks to them appropriately for this support. Now that I’m beginning to be a mentor for many pre-vet and vet students, I’m realizing what a sacrifice this investment of time can be!


Rebecca December 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

Elliott- I know I feel the same way. It hit me a few years ago that I was the same age Rick was when I first met him which made me start to realize what an impact I could have- it was eye opening! Thanks so much for commenting and thanks for the twitter follow as well!


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