The AVMA has been collecting and tracking information on its members for decades. Because of AVMA's detailed member data and the extensive research it conducts, the Association has long been recognized as the source for information on the veterinary profession. But it is only fairly recently that the AVMA began asking for demographic information other than gender from its members.
A new framework for classifying the professional activities of AVMA members was launched in early 2006. Several AVMA councils and committees assisted with the design of this framework as did the Task Force on Diversity, formed by the Executive Board in 2005. According to Barbara Baldwin, AVMA staff liaison to the task force, its first charge was to gather and analyze existing data on the diversity of the AVMA membership and the veterinary profession.
"The task force requested that a question on ethnicity be added to the online member update form. The new question was structured to collect data that could be compared with U.S. census data and with information collected by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges," Baldwin said.
Members tend to update their records mainly when they change address. By September 2006, about six months after the revised online member form was launched, only 6 percent (4,480) of AVMA members had answered the question on demographics. As of August 2008, the number of members providing this information had increased only to 11,393, or about 15 percent of the AVMA membership.
Baldwin, who is also a staff liaison to the Member Services Committee, said, "The Member Services Committee and all other AVMA entities have been asked to carry on the charge of the Task Force on Diversity and integrate diversity into their existing charges when relevant.
"We are looking to each AVMA member to review and update their member profiles so their Association can make a sound assessment of the membership's ethnic composition. The demographic information collected by the AVMA—including gender, age, and ethnicity—is kept strictly confidential and is only used for study purposes."
AVMA member profiles can be updated by going to www.avma.org, clicking on "Update/Join/Renew" under My AVMA, then on "Update your member information."