April 2021
Creating a Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Veterinary Medical Community
Society is reckoning like never before with a history of racial injustice and a culture of systemic racism. And veterinary medicine finds itself at the vortex of that movement. Once termed “the whitest profession” in a major national magazine article, the profession is taking a hard look at how it can truly become more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
Fortunately, the AAVMC has long embraced this mantle of responsibility. Records show the AAVMC was working in this area as far back as the 1970s. In 2005, the AAVMC introduced its pioneering and acclaimed “DiVersity Matters” program. And the AAVMC continues to lead. This edition of Focus takes a look at some of our current efforts and outcomes.
AAVMC Study Examines Bias in Admissions Processes, Standards
A new AAVMC study finds that admission offers from veterinary medical schools tend to be lower or higher for certain groups, indicating that unintended bias still exists despite recent efforts to be more inclusive and adopt more holistic admissions practices. The study recommends that schools focus more attention on overcoming barriers to admission based on factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, culture or socioeconomic status. Consultant Dr. James W. Lloyd, a former veterinary medical school dean, and the AAVMC’s Senior Director of Institutional Research and Diversity Dr. Lisa M. Greenhill, conducted the study, which compiled and analyzed data from the Veterinary Medical College Application Service 2018-2019 cycle post-application survey and the 2019 post-admissions student survey. The study’s authors wrote that “…these findings signal a very real need to reexamine admission processes. Schools and colleges of veterinary medicine should objectively and rigorously review their admissions processes and reevaluate those elements, such as the number of veterinary, animal, or total experience hours, that may be a source of inherent bias against particular groups of applicants.”
AAVMC Reaffirms Principles of Diversity and Inclusion in Light of Violence Against AAPI Community
The AAVMC expressed its concern about recent acts of violence and bias against members of the AAPI community by issuing a public statement including a link to its AAVMC Principles of Inclusion to about 3500 stakeholders. Here’s an excerpt of the statement: “The AAVMC is committed to embodying and advocating for our core values: Integrity, Service, Diversity, Inclusion and Excellence. We embrace the fundamental virtue and strength of diversity in every dimension, and we affirm the dignity and equity of all people. Recent events have once again illuminated the damaging and deadly effects of racism, discrimination, and marginalization in our society. We are saddened by the episodes of violence and bias that are impacting the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and recognize that such events prompt feelings of fear, anxiety, and grief, especially when considering the long and persistent history of these injustices. We extend our support to our academic colleagues, students and the broader community.” Click here to read the full statement.
AAVMC Position Statement on Gender Equality
The AAVMC Board of Directors recently adopted an organizational position statement on Gender Equality. The statement was undertaken as a result of concerns expressed by the AAVMC DEI Committee that the COVID-19 pandemic was disproportionately impacting women in the workforce and broadened to address existing gender equity issues among AAVMC member institutions. A working group was formed and produced an early draft of the statement, which was then refined by the larger DEI community. The statement “recognizes that gender equity is a key factor in reaching our goals of diversity, inclusion, and equity for all in academic veterinary medicine” and that “veterinary medical environments are gender equitable when every person in the profession can reach their full potential and no one is disadvantaged because of their sex and/or gender expression.” Click here to read the full statement.
Almost 27% of Applicant Pool URVM
New AAVMC data shows an increase in the number of racially/ethnically underrepresented individuals in veterinary medicine (URVM) in the most recent applicant pool. That figure has now climbed to 26.7%. The largest increase was noted among Hispanic/LatinX applicants (12.7%) and African American/Black applicants comprised 5.7% of the pool. Among the URVM applicants, 41.8% were first generation/low SES students. Forty percent were from urban backgrounds,8.6% were from rural backgrounds, and 60% expressed a desire to work in the suburbs. URVM applicants were more likely to report challenges in gaining animal/veterinary medical experiences prior to seeking admission. More details will be available when the new Public Data Report is introduced in May.
AAVMC Developing Organized Plan for Outreach to Minority Serving Institutions (MSI)
Over the past year, the AAVMC has acted on a number of fronts to increase the number of URVM’s in our colleges and schools and the profession. One of those strategies involves taking an organized approach to developing productive and sustainable relationships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). A new tool has been developed by the office of Institutional Research to help do that. This dynamic infographic details the geographic proximity and other details of U.S. colleges and schools of veterinary medicine and seven different categories of MSI’s. Also, a Minority Institutions Working Group, led by University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Carolyn Henry, has been established. Future plans call for organized outreach to major veterinary specialty organizations like the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) to collaborate on methods for increasing URVM candidates in the pipeline for specialty board certification.
Diversity Reads Program Getting Underway with Second Book
The AAVMC’s Community Diversity Reads book club got underway last fall with about 100 participants who read and discussed Academic Ableism by Jay Dolmage, which culminated with his keynote during the annual conference. Operating virtually, the club is focusing on texts that explore diversity, equity and inclusion issues in higher education. The goal, according to AAVMC Senior Director for Institutional Research & Diversity Dr. Lisa Greenhill, is to inspire and enhance cultural change in our colleges and schools through intellectual discussion and reflection. Next up on the agenda is The Merit Myth – How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America. That gets underway on May 26, and those interested can sign up by clicking here.
Organizational Assessment Tools Available
Institutions looking for help in assessing and improving their organizational culture and making sure their meetings and conferences are diverse, equitable and inclusive can use these useful AAVMC tools. The Intentional Organizational Diversity & Inclusion Efforts Assessment Tool provides a checklist of almost 50 characteristics and programs that can help an institution enhance its culture and benchmark its progress. Similarly, the AAVMC Conference/Symposia Diversity & Inclusion Assessment Tool offers a scale that planners can use to ensure that a meeting or conference includes provisions that ensure opportunities to make the most of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
AAVMC and AVMA Collaborating on New DEI Commission
The AAVMC, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other groups have teamed up on a major new effort to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout the veterinary profession. The Commission for a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Veterinary Profession is co-chaired by 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. 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).
Tuskegee Dean Dr. Ruby Perry Honored with Iverson Bell Award
The late Dr. Iverson Bell would surely be beaming with pride to see Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM) Dean Dr. Ruby Perry honored with the award that bears his name. During a time when society hungers for greater leadership in this area, Dean Perry is bringing a voice of wisdom and respect. With a passion born of lived experience and a commitment to service, Dr. Perry generously devotes her time and energy to speaking opportunities and other initiatives, including serving as co-chair of the new AVMA/AAVMC Diversity Commission (see above). Dr. Perry is TUCVM’s first female dean, the first African American female board-certified veterinary radiologist, and the first veterinary alumna to serve as Tuskegee University’s acting president. She also serves as secretary on the AAVMC’s Board of Directors and was recently honored with the 2020 Zoetis Champion of Diversity Award.
Diversity and Inclusion on Air Innovates, Enlightens
The AAVMC’s acclaimed Diversity & Inclusion on Air: Conversations about Diversity, Inclusion & Veterinary Medicine continues to enlighten. Launched in fall 2015 and hosted by Senior Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Dr. Lisa Greenhill, the show features fascinating guests and explores a galaxy of diversity, equity and inclusion issues in academic veterinary medicine. Since its inception, 85 different programs have been viewed or listened to almost 39,000 times. The two most popular shows are Black Lives Matter in Veterinary Medicine, which was produced in June, 2020 during the social uprising around the death of George Floyd, and Discrimination in Veterinary Medicine, which features Dr. Adilia James, a sociologist who has been studying discrimination in the profession. Curated playlists organize material on topics such as disability, COVID-19, affinity organization, and sexual orientation, gender identity and others. The program is available on numerous podcast apps or visit: https://soundcloud.com/diversitymatters-at-aavmc.
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The AAVMC is working hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in every dimension of academic veterinary medicine. To foster this goal, the photographs and illustrations which are used in our communications programs are aspirational, and do not necessarily reflect the levels of diversity and inclusion that currently exist.

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