A 2-year-old 96.3-g (0.21-lb) female Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) kept at the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine of Louisiana State University was noted to have a swollen abdomen, unthrifty coat, decreased appetite, and lethargic attitude. This animal was involved in a research project to investigate the complete life cycles of Brugia pahangi and Brugia malayi. These species are arthropod-transmitted nematodes known to be causative agents of lymphatic filariasis—a tropical disease commonly known as elephantiasis—in humans. However, this gerbil was specifically used as an uninfected control.
Empirical and anecdotal evidence indicates that veterinarians are at a high risk for work-related stress,1 compassion fatigue,2 and suicide,3–5 highlighting the growing urgency for veterinarians to prioritize their own health and well-being. To tackle this challenge, participants in the 2014–2015 AVMA Future Leaders Program created a series of online wellness resources addressing topics such as physical health, stress management, financial wellness, self-care, compassion fatigue, and work-life balance.6 As a follow-on to these efforts, participants in the 2015–2016 AVMA Future Leaders Program elected to focus on the issue of implementation of wellness in
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.”