Journey for Teams expands with new learning modules

The nationwide diversity, equity, and inclusion program is celebrating one-year anniversary at AVMA Convention 2023

Nearly a year after its launch, Journey for Teams (JFT) is making strides to help veterinary workplaces become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. So far, the educational program from the AVMA and Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE) has had more than 11,000 users and counting.

Journey for teams
The Journey for Teams program plans to have educational modules covering more than 30 topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by next year. Upcoming modules will address topics such as team retention, client communications, and religious diversity.
More JFT modules coming

The multi-year initiative includes monthly learning modules on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In the coming months, modules will cover topics such as team retention, client communications, and religious diversity as well as pathway programs for underrepresented students in veterinary medicine, allyship, accessibility, and gender diversity. The program plans to have educational modules covering more than 30 topics by next year.

Each module is approximately 15 minutes in length, which includes time to discuss the issues and make plans for lasting changes in a practice. With the help of a “navigator” to facilitate discussions, each group decides how to best engage with the educational modules, schedule meetings, and ultimately determine behavioral changes that will make a difference in the workplace.

“The course is really well organized with powerful and engaging content,” said Dr. Karen Shenoy, chief veterinary officer at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “I like that it is very focused with short modules. The content is deep enough to be thought provoking, yet easy to take in.”

Suzanne Savage, vice president of governance and administration at North American Veterinary Community (NAVC), said, “We’ve made it completely voluntary but have consistently had at least two-thirds of our team on the calls.”

Participants learn about foundational issues within DEI and see how they can make their workplaces more welcoming and better serve their communities. All programming is free thanks to educational partners Boehringer Ingelheim, Mars Veterinary Health, Nationwide Insurance, NAVC, National Veterinary Associates (NVA), Petco, Viticus Group, and Zoetis at the Trailblazers level and CareCredit, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, Petco, and Suveto at the Adventurers level.

Latonia Craig, EdD, AVMA chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, oversees the development and implementation of the national Journey for Teams program.

“I am so thrilled with the results we are seeing with Journey for Teams,” Craig said. “The program serves as catalyst for advancement in the DEI space by igniting conversations and fostering a culture of belonging. I think the momentum propels us toward a world where everyone’s unique story is celebrated and the power of collective voices creates lasting transformation.”

Coming soon will be a “Where Are You on the Journey?” link on the JFT website that displays organizations’ progress. Teams will also be able to upload photos of the learning process.

AVMA Convention programming

JFT will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a special event taking place on Sunday, July 16, at AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver. Other activities happening that day will feature DEI efforts in veterinary medicine, all in the exhibit hall’s Digital District. Plus, several continuing education sessions on DEI will take place (see sidebar).

Starting at 10:30 a.m. MDT, Craig will interview with the inaugural recipient of the Frederick Douglass Patterson Award. The award will go to an AVMA member veterinarian who has made significant contributions to the veterinary profession through innovative and transformative leadership in promoting DEI. The recipient will be announced on Friday, July 15, at the AVMA President’s Reception.

Then, from 11 a.m. to noon MDT, the Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition (DVMC) is hosting an event called “DEI Break in the Day.” The DVMC, which was created in 2020 by Banfield Pet Hospital to increase DEI among veterinary professionals, is covering traveling expenses for four grant applicants to this year’s convention. Dr. Kemba Marshall will interview the recipients about their contributions to the profession.

Later in the day, from 1-2 p.m., Craig and Lisa Greenhill, EdD, senior director for institutional research and diversity at the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), will be interviewed by an AVMA leader during the “Champions of Change” session. They will discuss current and ongoing efforts to implement DEI strategies in the profession. That includes an announcement of the entity that will carry on the work of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession, established jointly by the AVMA and AAVMC.

Immediately following the interview will be the Journey for Teams reception from 2-2:30 p.m. for a networking opportunity and ice cream social.

Finally, the launch of the Unsung Heroes pilot program will take place from 2:30-3 p.m. This program will acknowledge five staff members, including veterinary technicians, customer service representatives, and kennel workers, from Colorado for their dedication and hard work. The awards will be given in partnership with Western Veterinary Partners.

Sneak peek of diversity sessions at AVMA Convention 2023

Don’t miss these continuing education sessions during AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver that touch on a number of topics relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). All times listed are in Mountain Daylight Time (MDT):

Find out more about these and other convention sessions and events by visiting the AVMA Convention 2023 website and its CE schedule.