Profession-wide program to enhance diversity in veterinary medicine is announced


The Journey for Teams program is designed to 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.

Journey for Teams, a sweeping new initiative to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the nation’s veterinary profession, was announced by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE) at the AVMA’s 2022 convention in Philadelphia, Pa.

“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 Jose Arce, DVM, president of the AVMA, in an organizational press release.

The program builds upon the VMAE’s original Journey program that was launched in 2021 to provide 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.

“Historically, veterinary medicine has not been a very diverse profession,” said Randy Wheeler, DVM, president of the VMAE, in the release. “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 aims to 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, according to AVMA. 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,” Arce said, in the release. “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 Wheeler, in the release. “A profession that better reflects the demographics of the nation will benefit clients, patients, communities, and the workplaces themselves.”

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 Latonia Craig, EdD, 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, Zoetis, CareCredit, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health , Petco and Suveto.

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 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.

The AVMA, VMAE, and their partners are now 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 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.

“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.”

Reference

Journey for Teams seeks to educate, inspire, and drive change in advancing DEI throughout the profession. News release. July 30, 2022. Accessed July 31, 2022. https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/avma-vmae-announce-profession-wide-program-enhance-diversity-veterinary

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