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July 15, 2021

Sessions focus on improving workplaces, leadership opportunities for underrepresented groups

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Updated June 23, 2021

AVMA Virtual Convention 2021 has made available hundreds of hours of continuing education, including plenty of programming related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Sessions kick off on July 29, when there will be a talk by Dr. Valerie Cristina Marcano, founder of Pawsibilities Vet Med, a nonprofit platform dedicated to recruitment and retention of diverse students in veterinary medicine. She will discuss options for improving recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the veterinary profession as well as ways to improve leadership and professional development opportunities for those groups.

Veterinarian examines a Border Collie puppy at an animal hospital with the owner


The next day, July 30, will include the following presentations:

  • “COVID-19 & the Impact of Equity Challenges on the Evolving Role of Shelter Medicine” by Drs. Mehnaz C. Aziz, senior director in the shelter medicine services department at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Dr. Tina V. Tran, founding board member of the Multicultural VMA.
  • “The DEI Intersection of Shelter Medicine, Community Medicine & Veterinary Social Work During COVID-19: A One Health Model” by Dr. Tran; Dr. Jennifer Bolser, chief clinic veterinarian for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Colorado; and Kelly Bremken, an intern in veterinary social work.
  • “Conquering Cultural Conundrums in Veterinary Practice” by Dr. Zenithson Y. Ng, clinical associate professor of small animal primary care at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • “When There is No One Else at Work That Looks Like You: Addressing the Lack of Diversity in Veterinary Medicine and How Everyone Can Play a Role” by Drs. Tangela Williams-Hill, Philadelphia professional services veterinarian for Idexx Laboratories, and Laura E. Pletz, scientific services manager for Royal Canin.
  • “Implementing Organizational Change and the Burning Platform of Workplace Discrimination in Veterinary Medicine” by Dr. Gerelyn Henry, president and CEO of YW August Companies and Transcendent Pathology.

The following day, July 31, will feature the presentation “Leveraging the Diversity Bonus in the Workplace” with Drs. Tran; Marie Sato Quicksall, president of the MCVMA; and Mia Cary, veterinary consultant, describing the diversity bonus as defined by social scientist Scott Page and comparing a variety of approaches to enhance workplace diversity.

Later that day, in the session “Discrimination in Veterinary Medicine: A Video Breakdown,” Dr. Quicksall will highlight a video that the MCVMA created this past July titled “A Profession in Crisis: Discrimination in Veterinary Medicine,” which shared stories collected from veterinary professionals about racism and bias they have experienced. Dr. Quicksall will lead a discussion on the issues brought up and provide suggestions for how to handle similar situations if they occur.