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Several veterinary organizations and associations have issued statements in support of diversity, justice and inclusion and in response to recent police killings and shootings of black people in the past few months, including George Floyd, Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor and the Black Lives Matter- Move.
Since then, several organizations have put these statements into practice.
Banfield Pet Hospital focused on diversity, equity and inclusion during their virtual Pet Healthcare Industry Summit September 14-15. Attendees included (clockwise from top left) Melissa Marshall, Banfield’s senior vice president of people and organization; Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Willie Reed, dean of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine; Lisa Greenhill, EdD, Senior Director, Institutional Research and Diversity, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges; and Dr. Courtney Campbell, veterinarian and host of the veterinary news program “Vet Candy Watch” and the podcast “Anything is Pawsible”.
AVMA worked to set up a Diversity, Justice and Inclusion Commission in early October. The association works with key stakeholders to develop a strategy and identify goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the veterinary profession.
AVMA is also in the process of hiring an external consultant to support and advance its DEI initiatives. This summer, AVMA launched a new website that will make it easier for members to access the organization’s resources and guidelines regarding DEI. And in August, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation partnered with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to launch a new fellowship program for veterinary students at Tuskegee University, a historically black university.
Your courage will inspire action. This conversation shouldn’t end here. This is not a moment. This is a movement to change society.
Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges also announced that it will establish a working group that will focus on strategies such as scholarships or exchange programs for faculty and students to improve outreach and collaboration with institutions that serve minorities. The association is naming and defining the group’s strategy.
As previously reported by JAVMA News, a number of historically black colleges and universities offer veterinary or animal-related bachelor’s degrees.
The AAVMC has led diversity efforts for the past 15 years with initiatives such as DiVersity Matters, its podcast, Diversity and Inclusion on Air, and most recently Diversity Community Reads, a book club designed to facilitate learning of DEI topics in the veterinary education sector.
Lisa Greenhill, EdD, senior director of institutional research and diversity at AAVMC, said in September that the pool of applicants is becoming more diverse, but there is still great progress to be made.
During the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit, held virtually September 14-15, the Banfield Pet Hospital announced the formation of the Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition and the launch of a $ 125,000 gift to the Tuskegee University Veterinary College for the Banfield and Royal Canin Student Support Fund.
The coalition will focus on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion among veterinary professionals. The scholarship will support Tuskegee veterinary students who have financial needs. Tuskegee is a historically black university and has trained more than 70% of the country’s African American veterinarians, according to the Veterinary College.
Dr. Molly McAllister, Chief Medical Officer at Banfield, discusses the Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition during the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit, which will be held virtually September 14-15.
Brian Garish, president of Banfield, said the company is switching to activists and taking action.
“Banfield is committed to working with the veterinary industry to ensure that the talent pipeline grows and diversifies to meet the changing needs of pets, people and society,” Garish said in a press release.
Coalition members include Boehringer Ingelheim, Mars Veterinary Health, Royal Canin, Antech Diagnostics, the National Association of Black Veterinarians, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and the Multicultural VMA. The coalition will complement the work of the commission established by AVMA, AAVMC, veterinary Medical Association leaders and others to promote equity, diversity and inclusion across the profession.
Banfield also pledges to invest $ 1 million in DEI efforts to improve representation, training and support to improve the diversity pipeline.
“We are the least diversified health care professionals,” said Dr. Molly McAllister, Chief Medical Officer at Banfield. “There is no way to gloss over this. We are at a turning point. “
A panel discussion during the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee Veterinary School, said that if a person is to make a difference, they must have courage.
“Your courage will inspire action,” she said. “This conversation shouldn’t end here. This is not a moment. This is a movement to change society. “
“Every child should be able to see themselves,” said Dr. Sandra San Miguel, founder and leader of the League of VetaHumanz of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, among veterinarians. The League of VetaHumanz’s program defines a VetaHuman as “a person with superpowers who protects human and animal health; Synonym: veterinarian. ”
The program focuses on expanding role models to reach children who may not have veterinarians in their lives by creating a global and inclusive veterinary superhero league. VetaHumanz in Science, Practice, Research, Government, and Industry engages K-12 students by creating and delivering science, technology, engineering, and math resources.
VetaHumanz builds on the This is How We Role program, which started 11 years ago. Some of the resources include the SuperPower Packs, which are under development and will include a game that focuses on veterinary medicine. Trading cards of role models; a cloak; and a shield.
Learn more about VetaHumanz.
Dr. Purdue Veterinary School Dean Willie Reed also spoke during the panel at the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit. He said there is still a lot to be done.
“We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go. It can’t just be the colleges doing this on their own, ”said Dr. Reed. “We need the entire veterinary profession to say this is not acceptable and we have to do better.”
correction: In an earlier version of this article, Brian Garish’s title was incorrectly given.