Journeys of consequence reflect an ongoing investment; they are a marathon, not a sprint. They require drive, desire, endurance, and teamwork.
The AVMA’s work to support a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive veterinary profession is just such a journey. It is not a solitary undertaking that will result in overnight success. The insights, expertise, and ongoing collaborative contributions of individuals, organizations, and other associations will be critical to achieving socially conscious educational and work environments for veterinary professionals.
Increased DEI will strengthen veterinary teams and enable practices to serve our increasingly diverse clientele more effectively.
The AVMA plays an important role in this journey. We’re dedicated to fostering an inclusive culture that encourages courageous conversations; valuing the diverse experiences and voices of our community; and welcoming and uplifting historically underrepresented people.
As one of the largest and most influential veterinary associations in the world, the AVMA has a unique role and responsibility in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across our profession. We’re approaching this in multiple ways, including these and more:
- Work to update and improve the AVMA’s ability to capture demographic data about our members, including race, ethnicity, gender, and employment information
- Education that includes sensitivity and unconscious bias training
- An internal DEI audit of the AVMA, including all major operational systems and processes
- Enhancements to AVMA’s recruiting efforts, including the ongoing use of diverse job boards and other DEI-focused recruitment resources, as well as partnering with DEI-focused associations to promote AVMA employment opportunities
- Integrating DEI concepts as we onboard AVMA volunteers
- Removing perceived obstacles to participation in AVMA leadership roles
- Continuing to include and enhance DEI content in AVMA programming and events
Education plays a pivotal role in this work, and the AVMA is committed to providing tools that empower veterinary professionals to advance their knowledge on these issues. From podcasts, continuing education webinars and certificates to anti-harassment programs, these resources help veterinary professionals become better allies in support of equitable treatment for all. You can find them at avma.org/Diversity.
AVMA's role as trusted convener
AVMA also plays an important role by serving as a trusted convener. A prime example is our leadership role in creating and launching the AVMA/American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession, to which I serve as the AVMA Board liaison.
Our work in helping to form and support the DEI commission is key to ensuring a coordinated and comprehensive effort to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the profession.
AVMA is committed to providing tools that empower veterinary professionals to advance their knowledge on these issues.
The DEI commission has been meeting virtually throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is active in recommending actionable goals that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. To achieve these goals, commission members also have identified what they believe will be sustainable and effective short-, medium-, and long-term activities. These are focused on education, communication, and programs that engage current and future veterinary professionals. That means attention to students of all ages, including those in primary, secondary, and veterinary school; veterinarians in all career phases; the veterinary industry; and veterinary professional organizations.
The Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE), an organization that helps veterinary medical associations create thriving environments and provide effective leadership within the profession, serves as inspiration for what associations can do to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion. VMAE’s Journey initiative helps veterinary associations model how to become more effective leaders, more visible allies, and more articulate voices on why advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is key for the future of the veterinary profession.
Recognizing the impact and value the Journey program already has delivered, the AVMA and VMAE are collaborating to bring certain elements of it more directly into the veterinary practice setting. Recognizing the importance of and serving as advocates for increased diversity, equity, and inclusion will strengthen veterinary teams and enable practices to serve our increasingly diverse clientele more effectively.
As president of the AVMA, I am proud of the groups and individuals across our profession who are working to ensure that everyone who wants to be a part of this great profession has a clear pathway to do so. I am proud of the courage and commitment being shown.
As we work to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion across the profession, we need the collaborative help of others to make progress and effect positive change.
We are in the midst of that, and the future is getting brighter.
I welcome you to join in this journey.