SAVMA steps up diversity outreach

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An ad hoc cultural outreach officer position has been created on the Student AVMA Executive Board to advance diversity and inclusion within veterinary medicine. The SAVMA House of Delegates approved the position while meeting July 12-13 in Boston.

Following a one-year probationary period, the ad hoc position will be evaluated when the SAVMA HOD convenes in San Antonio in 2016. Delegates will then vote on whether a cultural outreach officer should continue on an ad hoc basis or be made a permanent SAVMA Executive Board position.

Jessica Carie
​Student AVMA President Jessica Carie chairing the SAVMA House of Delegates, meeting this past July in Boston

“Enhancing diversity outreach is a very important job. We in veterinary medicine can and should work toward improving it,” SAVMA President Jessica Carie said after the meeting.

Kyle Hohu, the senior SAVMA delegate from Purdue University, proposed the new position and later was elected to that office. He saw a cultural outreach officer as meeting a need among students to take a more active role in promoting diversity and inclusion. “We have many SAVMA board positions that deal with other issues affecting students, and I felt we needed someone to work on diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency,” Hohu said.

Over the next year, Hohu plans on establishing liaison positions with various organizations and working with Dr. Beth Sabin, AVMA’s associate director for international and diversity initiatives, to align SAVMA and AVMA goals on advancing diversity and inclusion within the AVMA.

“The position will also focus on promoting diversity among future and current veterinary students. I will be working to facilitate outreach and promotion of veterinary medicine among underrepresented populations of future students,” Hohu explained, adding that he is looking at making relevant resources more readily available to students.

During its two-day meeting, the SAVMA HOD voted in favor of amending the SAVMA bylaws to allow delegates of satellite veterinary schools to be elected to the SAVMA Executive Board. Satellite schools, also known as 2+2 programs, have veterinary students spending their first years studying veterinary medicine at one university and then finishing their education at another university with a veterinary medical teaching hospital. Dr. Tony Bartels, a contributor to the Veterinary Information Network, gave a presentation on managing student loan debt, and Dr. Betsy Charles, executive director of the Veterinary Leadership Institute, spoke about inclusive and integrative leadership.

Kyle Hohu
Kyle Hohu, senior Student AVMA delegate from Purdue University, speaks in support of adding an ad hoc cultural outreach officer on the SAVMA Executive Board.

The AVMA PLIT told the student delegates it would begin sponsoring the cost of student liability insurance premiums as an added member benefit for students belonging to the SAVMA.

“The idea that someone can allege a veterinary student was negligent and committed malpractice during a clinical experience can be scary and overwhelming. We want students to know that they are not alone,” said Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA PLIT CEO.

The PLIT, along with the AVMA, AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust, and SAVMA, also announced $333,000 in support for the ALL for Students program (seeSCAVMA program funding renewed”).

Student delegates elected the following 2016-2017 SAVMA officers: Meghana Pendurthi, University of Pennsylvania, secretary-elect; Shawn Wharrey, The Ohio State University, treasurer-elect; Michael McEntire, Texas A&M University, information technology officer-elect; Alex Schauer, University of Minnesota, The Vet Gazette editor-elect; and Kyle Hohu, Purdue University, ad hoc cultural outreach officer.

Related JAVMA content:

Student AVMA ready to reinvent (May 15, 2015)