Getting Along with Faculty

Scenario #1

You’re meeting your mentor, Dr. X, for the first time and you’re a little nervous. What will he be like? Will he help me learn medicine? Will he think that I am competent? You wonder what to say as you walk in the door.

Scenario #2

On rounds during your rotation, your clinician points out some errors on your physical exam report. You sense she wants to help you improve. You really want to impress her but aren’t sure how to meet her expectations. You wonder what your next step should be.


It is imperative in vet school, internships, and beyond that we learn to work effectively with others, including the faculty you’ll learn from and who will some day be your peers. Mutual respect, courtesy, and recognizing differences in a collegial way are important foundations upon which to build strong relationships.


  • Start with developing mutual respect. Speak to everyone in a caring and thoughtful manner.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your faculty want to assist you in solidifying your knowledge base and developing your critical reasoning skills.
  • Thank them for their efforts.
  • While students are an extremely high priority (often the highest) for faculty, recognize that they have other responsibilities as well and may not be always be able to address your needs immediately. If this is the case, offer to schedule a time to meet with them. Most faculty welcome this.
  • If you are unsure of your faculty’s expectations, ask them in a positive way to clarify this for you. “Dr. Jones, I really want to do well in my surgery rotation. Please share with me your expectations so that I can do the best job I can.” Most faculty respond very well to this.
  • Share what skills you are working on and ask for assistance


  •  If faculty members are constantly belittling you, asking you to perform personal services, or not grading you fairly, you may discuss this with them, the Hospital Director, or the Associate Dean of  Academic and Student Affairs. UMN CVM does not tolerate student abuse and also protects those who express concern, from any retribution.

People I Can Talk To

Final Thoughts

We are fortunate to have a supportive and knowledgeable faculty who are concerned about your success in vet school. Get to know them. Ask questions. Learn from them.


The faculty here are great! Some can come off as a bit aloof or uninterested, but if you show them that you do actually care about learning the material, they usually bend over backwards trying to help you out. Find one or two faculty that work in the area of vet med that you are interested in, and reach out. Who knows, maybe they will have a research project that you can help with, or maybe they know someone that will provide you with a fantastic summer internship, or maybe they will become a great mentor for you. The faculty here really do care, take the time to reach out to them.”

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2019

“A big part of [med] school seems to be honing interpersonal relationship skills. There are many [‘difficult’ personalities] out there …and part of [the process] is learning how to deal with personalities with whom you do not ‘click.’ You just have to do your best and keep a thick skin on.”

JABSOM Student Class of 2006


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Well-being Handbook Copyright © 2019 by Erin Malone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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