Overcoming the Hurdles: Promoting Diversity Within Veterinary Medicine

Written by: Rebecca A. Packer
Published on: Jun 30, 2022

diversity, race, ethnicity of veterinarians
Photo credit: yojo/Adobe Stock

During his lecture at the Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference, Dr Charles McMillan addresses what he refers to as the “the elephant in the room,” regarding the lack of diversity within veterinary medicine as well as providing workable solutions.

It is no surprise that the veterinary profession lacks diversity, as it is painfully obvious when we look around the veterinary classroom or the faculty at veterinary schools. Working towards creating diversity is a common discussion among veterinary admissions committees. But what is the full benefit of diversity to the profession, and how do we get there? Charles McMillan, DVM, a veterinarian at IndeVets in Atlanta, Georgia, presented at the Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC) a detailed view of why diversity is so important to the health of a profession, the hurdles we face to become more diverse, and what we can do to promote diversity within veterinary medicine.

While the veterinary client base is becoming more diverse, and the demographic of the United States is expected to become a minority-majority by 2040, the veterinary profession itself does not reflect this same diversity, but why does diversity matter? Research has consistently shown that diverse companies have significantly increased productivity, increased fiscal performance, improved decision-making, and the development of solutions for complex problems.1-3

McMillan explained that there are 2 types of diversity at play in these situations. Inherent diversity is used to describe traits we are born with (gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation). Acquired diversity is used to describe traits we gain from experience. It is important to promote both inherent and acquired diversity in veterinary medicine. But why do these aspects of diversity lead to innovation and productivity? Diversity impacts our way of thinking and our approach to problem-solving. A diverse population of veterinarians will see the same problem in different ways, broadening our approach to solutions, and promoting innovation.

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