New commission will address diversity, equity and inclusion across the veterinary profession

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For immediate release:


jjohnsonataavmc [dot] or (Jeanne Johnson)
Communications Consultant
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
Phone: 410-825-1323


Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession seeks to drive change throughout the profession

(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:

  1. Promoting the value of DEI throughout the veterinary profession
  2. Increasing diversity among veterinarians, veterinary school applicants and enrollees, interns, residents and board-certified specialists
  3. 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.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.

About the AAVMC

The member institutions of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) promote and protect the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment by advancing the profession of veterinary medicine and preparing new generations of veterinarians to meet the evolving needs of a changing world. Founded in 1966, the AAVMC represents more than 40,000 faculty, staff and students across the global academic veterinary medical community. Our member institutions include veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand as well as departments of veterinary science and departments of comparative medicine in the U.S.