(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) November 19, 2020—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) today announced the formation of a new commission that will lead a coordinated and comprehensive effort to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout the veterinary profession.
"The launch of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession brings together veterinary organizations committed to serving as champions for social justice and DEI," Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA, and Dr. Mark D. Markel, president of the AAVMC, said in a joint statement.
Despite years of efforts, the veterinary profession does not fully reflect the diversity of the society we have all taken an oath to serve. Ensuring a diverse, equitable and inclusive profession is essential to meeting the needs of an evolving and changing world. Therefore, driving and expanding a sustainable diverse pipeline and ensuring welcoming workplace environments going forward is critical.
"Sustainable, long-term change can only come about if dedicated and influential partners from across our profession, including academia and industry, join together to identify challenges and implement solutions," Kratt and Markel said. "The commission will establish actionable goals that promote DEI throughout the veterinary community."
The commission's co-chairs will be Dr. Christine Jenkins, chief medical officer and vice president, veterinary medical services and outcomes research, U.S. operations at Zoetis Inc., and Dr. Ruby L. Perry, secretary of the AAVMC and dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine.
"I commend the leadership of our professional organizations at the AVMA and AAVMC for noting that there is a need and now is the time to act to make our profession more diverse, equitable and inclusive," said Perry. "Amongst the many changes 2020 has brought, the cries for social justice and diversity partnered with equity and inclusion have been the themes echoed both nationally and globally. I am also honored to co-chair this new commission with Dr. Christine Jenkins, who is one of our college's faithful alumna and a strong advocate for veterinary medical education, as we all work together to make a lasting difference in the future of the veterinary medical profession."
"In collaboration with other committed stakeholders, I am confident we will develop an effective, relevant strategy that helps us transform veterinary medicine into a more diverse, inclusive profession to meet the evolving needs of the clients and customers we serve and the animals in their care," Jenkins said.
The commission's organizational members also include the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE), National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) and Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA). Each organization will designate a commission representative.
Additionally, the AVMA and AAVMC are currently working with veterinary affinity groups including the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association, as well as industry and other stakeholders, to select six additional persons with expertise or interest in DEI. A larger advisory group will support the mission of the commission, including critical feedback and idea generation.
The commission will establish actionable outcomes for short-, medium- and long-term goals with defined timeframes. Initial goals for the commission will include:
- Promoting the value of DEI throughout the veterinary profession
- Increasing diversity among veterinarians, veterinary school applicants and enrollees, interns, residents and board-certified specialists
- Encouraging and assisting veterinary medical associations and animal health companies to measure and improve DEI
The commission's initial meeting will be scheduled as soon as full membership is determined. Because of the pandemic, the commission is expected to meet virtually, at least for the near future.