Advancing equality and equity in society is creating positive change, and the time has come to critically evaluate veterinary medicine, which, by all metrics, lacks diversity. To keep pace with increasingly diverse demographics and recent surges in pet ownership among all racial/ethnic groups, significant efforts to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) must occur in veterinary colleges and the profession. Recruiting more underrepresented students, building pipelines for diverse faculty/staff, and creating inclusive, welcoming environments where all can thrive are critical steps toward enhancing DEIB within our organizations and profession. Our goal is to share experiences and lessons learned from our intentional commitment to strengthen DEIB, with the hope that our journey will be helpful to others. Increasing diversity in the veterinary profession will be facilitated through removing barriers, creating inclusive work environments where all people feel they belong, and ensuring fair and equitable hiring and personnel management practices. These steps should in turn improve access and quality of veterinary care, ensure we are more representative of the communities we serve, increase revenue, and preserve the human-animal bond.
“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself belonging to it, and responsible for changing it.”
The American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) convened a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity working group in March 2021 to address the limited diversity (including but not limited to ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity) in clinical post-DVM graduate training programs and academic faculty. Concurrent with a working group formation, the AAVC developed a strategic plan. The central mission of the AAVC is to develop, support, and connect academic leaders to fuel the future of the veterinary medical profession. House officers and their training programs are central to all goals outlined in the strategic plan. Amongst other strategic goals, the working group identified best practices for intern and resident recruitment and selection. We report herein from the current health profession literature ways to identify and recruit talented, diverse candidates especially those with non-traditional (atypical) preparation and experience. We also provide recommendations on best practices for intern and resident selection. This document highlights holistic approaches, some of which are incrementally being incorporated into the Veterinary Intern Resident Matching Program application, that emphasize diversity as a selection criteria for intern and resident selection an important step towards building a more resilient and inclusive workforce. These include expanding candidate assessment beyond grades and class rank into a more standardized method for screening candidates that includes consideration of life experiences and talents outside of veterinary medicine.