Of all the classes at Hogwarts, Defense Against the Dark Arts stands out the most in our minds. One reason is that each book introduced us to a new professor with a very strikingly different personality and method of teaching. So, let’s make like Viktor Krum and start seeking to find which DADA teacher is most like the vet med mentors you have encountered.
1) Quirinus Quirell
In the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for any non-Americans reading this), Professor Quirell is the bumbling and mostly inept DADA teacher who just happened to be concealing immense evil under his turban. In a veterinary hospital, a professional who appears timid and unassuming can actually be extremely dangerous if they lack competence in their skills. That’s not who you want teaching you. Learning from someone who really doesn’t know what they’re doing can cause bad habits that lead you down a path towards dark magic. If your mentor appears to be a Professor Quirell, find a new mentor before Voldemort emerges from the turban to ruin your veterinary career!
2) Gilderoy Lockhart
We meet Gilderoy Lockhart in the book Chamber of Secrets, where he is initially presented as the celebrity who boasted of his wonderful accomplishments. We later learn that he is a fraud who took credit for others’ achievements. The Professor Lockhart’s of vet med can be those who seem to be loved by the clients, but really have little to do with the treatment of the patient. Instead of kindly acknowledging the teamwork of colleagues to spread recognition, these people are… well… jerks! They take all the credit for success, but do none of the work. They eat all the “thank you cookies” or receive that undeserved heartfelt hug from the client. Try not to let them get to you. Eventually they will succumb to their own version of a backfired Obliviate curse.
3) Remus Lupin
By the third book, we finally get to a cherished DADA teacher. Professor Lupin is actually wonderful at teaching. His downfall is that some wizards look down on him for being a werewolf. In vet school, your Lupin could be that friendly veterinarian who is an amazing teacher, but who is not yet board certified. In a hospital, Lupin might be the veterinary assistant who has many years of experience, but who isn’t licensed. Board certified veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians are wonderful, sure, but they are not the only people worthy of teaching. Be careful not to dismiss a potentially career-enhancing, Lupin-like mentor just because they are missing some credentials.
4) Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
Goblet of Fire introduces “Mad-Eye” Moody who has a rather frightening appearance but great aptitude for teaching practical knowledge. (Yes, I know he’s actually an imposter in disguise, but let’s save the Polyjuice Potion discussion as a topic for another day.) Many veterinary professionals are friendly, but some have quite intimidating first impressions. Some of those who seem the most unapproachable, have ended up being my best practical teachers. Don’t let the outward demeanor scare you away from a potentially valuable mentorship.
5) Dolores Umbridge
We’re here. We’ve reached the notorious Umbridge. If the hopelessness and frustration of FIP in kittens could be encapsulated in a person, it would be Umbridge. A shiver runs down my spine just writing her name. Not only is Umbridge downright nasty to Harry, she never teaches her classes anything useful. I truly hope you have avoided a veterinary version of Umbridge, who would leave scars on the back of your hand as a result of your encounter. No one needs a mentor who makes life miserable and doesn’t help you learn or improve at all.
5b) Harry Potter
As a bonus teacher to this list, Harry counts since he instructs Dumbldore’s Army. Don’t underestimate your peer mentors. Someone who is at the same level of you, with similar experience, can be a wonderful mentor. Or, if you are the Harry Potter of the group, you may learn by teaching your peers. When you have to teach, you end up learning the material better yourself. After all, Harry aced his OWL for DADA after a year of teaching his fellow classmates in the DA.
6) Severus Snape
From the beginning, we ponder over whether Snape is good or bad. In the end, he is good despite outwardly being interpreted as evil by many. Some of the best mentors are people who we initially don’t like. They correct our bad habits. They question our IV catheter placement or surgery techniques or interactions with clients. Despite the appearance of being the bad guys, they are actually looking out for our well-being by protecting us from the truly evil. Differentiating the Snape’s from the Umbridge’s is not always immediately apparent. The key is the underlying intention. Snape wants you to succed. Umbridge does not. Be careful not to misinterpret the underlying good intentions of your Snape-like vet med mentors who seem to be hard on you at times.
No matter which Hogwarts professor you mentors resemble, you will endure just as the Hogwarts students did. Recognizing who your mentor truly is can be difficult, but can help you determine if seeking out a new mentor is necessary. Please be careful when you encounter the Quirrell’s, Lockhart’s, or Umbridge’s, but don’t dismiss the Lupin’s, Moody’s, Potter’s, and Snape’s in your vet med career who may help you to discover your magic.