AVMA symposium attempts to tackle diversity
Panel members says they are not surprised at symposium attendance
Sep 01, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS — Critics of veterinary leadership want a more diverse veterinary population, and they are willing to take their case to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to promulgate it.
"There are not enough qualified minority students applying to colleges of veterinary medicine," says Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, dean, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. "That is at no fault of the AVMA, but as the governing body of the profession, it should be their concern as to why that is the case."Enhancing the profession by making veterinary medicine a more provocative option to minority students is the intention of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the panel of speakers at the AVMA diversity symposium in Minneapolis.
Those working on improving diversity shortcomings in the profession are becoming less patient on association action and are vocalizing their concerns and pushing for solutions.
The national veterinary applicant pool has remained flat the last three or four years, while other health professions have increased significantly.
"If demand for veterinarians is increasing, why are applicants staying flat. There is an untapped group of people within the population. It's not only the right thing to do — to have more diverse profession, but also smart to fill need for vets," Elmore adds.
Why diversity matters
A diverse population within the profession has been a topic of discussion for years, contends Patricia Lowrie, MS, director of the Women's Resource Center at Michigan State University and assistant to the dean in the college of veterinary medicine.
"This isn't a new issue, and it's time to take action on making the changes. What is it going to take for the Council on Education (COE) to make this a standard requirement for accreditation? A system needs to be in place to have a diverse student body."
"We might need to ride a bus up to Schaumburg (Ill.) for a talk, but COE isn't going to happen," Blackwell says. "Additional conversations need to take place."
The mediator of the day-long event, Dr. Evan Morse, chairman of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Diversity Task Force, says he hopes the symposium will serve as a beacon, guiding the profession toward frank and open discussion on diversity.