AVMA, VMAE announce profession-wide program to enhance diversity in veterinary medicine

PHILADELPHIA (July 30, 2022) — “Journey for Teams,” a sweeping new initiative to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the nation’s veterinary profession, was announced today by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE ).

“Journey for Teams is our most ambitious DEI undertaking to date – a comprehensive and collaborative process to be incorporated into every sphere of activity within veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Jose Arce, President of the AVMA, at a news conference at the AVMA’s annual convention in Philadelphia.

The program builds upon the original “Journey” program launched in July 2021 by the VMAE that provides executive directors and elected leaders at veterinary medical associations with tools and resources to advance DEI. The new Journey for Teams is designed for veterinary professionals and workplaces of all kinds, including private practices, animal hospitals, academia, industry and other settings.

Journey for Teams will engage veterinary professionals to increase their knowledge of DEI principles and foster individual and team behaviors that help advance a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. More than 140 individuals with subject-matter expertise who are active in DEI within the veterinary community will be invited to provide guidance on topics, suggest guest authors, and offer in-depth resources that support learning on identified topics.

“Diversifying our profession will require sustained effort over the course of many years,” Dr. Arce noted. “No one can do it alone, nor is Journey for Teams the answer to all our challenges, but it gives us a shared path to greater diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“We want to mobilize the entire veterinary profession,” said Dr. Randy Wheeler, President of the VMAE. “A profession that better reflects the demographics of the nation will benefit clients, patients, communities, and the workplaces themselves.”

Starting with today’s announcement, the AVMA, VMAE and their partners are encouraging veterinarians and their workplaces across the country to “join the journey” by signaling their intention to participate in the program. As part of Journey for Teams, veterinary workplaces will be encouraged to include a commitment to DEI core principles and behaviors in their stated values.

Journey for Teams will involve a sustained commitment to in-depth DEI learning. Beginning this fall and over the next two years, new learning modules will be released monthly. Tools and resources will include the program’s website, a guide, a video, the introductory webinar, learning modules and a facilitator’s handbook.

Development and implementation of Journey for Teams will be overseen by Dr. Latonia Craig, the AVMA’s new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, who begins in the newly created role September 1.

To further expand outreach efforts, the AVMA and VMAE are working with veterinary and animal health organizations who have signed on as Educational Partners and have an aligned commitment to DEI. Educational Partners will be critical to the success of the program, as they help raise awareness and engagement in Journey for Teams. The initial companies who will be contributing their knowledge and expertise to the program, as well as financial support and valuable resources, include Mars Veterinary Health, Nationwide Insurance, NAVC, NVA, Viticus Group and Zoetis at the “Trailblazers” level and CareCredit, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, Petco and Suveto at the “Adventurers” level.

“Today’s announcement is just the beginning; we’re so grateful to the companies that have joined us so far and we know many more companies will be joining us in the future,” said Dr. Arce. “Educational Partners will also participate in the development of content and resources and use their communication channels to drive engagement with Journey for Teams.”

Journey for Teams is also working in association with Collaborating Partners that are broad coalitions or national associations whose members are integral to advancing DEI. Outreach continues, and the initial groups who have committed their participation include the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) and the AVMA/AAVMC’s Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession. Their combined reach will make a significant contribution to the success of the initiative, with subject-matter expertise on the development of content, as well as promoting Journey for Teams to their members and other stakeholders.

Journey for Teams is the latest in a series of initiatives by the AVMA and other leading organizations across the profession to support DEI with significant resources, including digital educational modules, certificate programs and continuing education content, as well as programming and events, including at AVMA’s annual conventions. For more information about the AVMA’s policies and resources promotion DEI, please visit www.avma.org/diversity.

“Historically, veterinary medicine has not been a very diverse profession,” said the VMAE’s Dr. wheeler “That has been changing, and Journey for Teams will support our progress. Veterinary teams will find the new ‘Journey’ inviting, welcoming and rewarding, and it will help move all of us forward.”

“Journey for Teams underscores our ongoing commitment to DEI,” said the AVMA’s Dr. Arce. “This program will meet people where they are and inspire them through a continuous, layered learning process. Reflecting the diversity of their communities will make veterinary teams more successful.”

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