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DEI Spotlight: Implementing Journey for Teams at our Veterinary Hospital

March 15, 2024

The summer of 2020 marked a significant turning point for the veterinary profession, catalyzed by the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent global outcry against racial injustice. Amidst calls for action, veterinary associations representing diverse backgrounds implored the profession to confront its lack of diversity and discrimination. With approximately 90% of U.S. veterinarians being white and dwindling numbers of students from diverse backgrounds entering veterinary schools, the imperative for change became undeniable.

There are several resources for individuals to deepen their understanding of diversity, and why it matters, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Brave Spaces and Purdue University’s Certificate for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine. However, team-focused diversity training for private practice clinics was hard to find. This is where Journey for Teams program has been instrumental in deepening our practice’s understanding and reflection of inclusivity, diversity, and understanding.

Journey for Teams, developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), are 15-minute educational modules designed to spark reflection and dialogue among veterinary teams. We start every staff meeting with one of the videos and hold a brief discussion on the topic. This month we watched the module “Accessibility in the Workplace” by Brandy Duhon, DVM (She/Her). Various staff members had innovative ideas on how to improve our veterinary clinic for individuals with physical impediments. A technician and our office manager are re-working our new client intake form to ensure we are asking our clients how we can best accommodate them and their pets.  Each module contains resources for further exploration of the topic.  Our hospital team has found that we all have something to learn, and something to contribute to the discussion, and these modules help with team building.

The implementation of Journey for Teams at our veterinary hospital has proven to be a pivotal step towards fostering inclusivity, diversity, and understanding within our team. As we navigate the complexities of addressing racial injustice and discrimination in our profession, these 15-minute educational modules have provided a structured platform for reflection and dialogue. By incorporating topics such as accessibility in the workplace, we have witnessed firsthand the tangible impact of these discussions on our clinic’s operations and culture. From innovative ideas to practical initiatives, Journey for Teams has empowered each member of our team to actively contribute to creating a more inclusive environment for both our staff and clients. As we continue on this journey, we recommend Journey for Teams to other veterinary clinics seeking to cultivate a more diverse and equitable workplace. Through ongoing education and dialogue, we can collectively work towards a profession that truly reflects the diversity of our society and provides equitable opportunities for all.You can find Journey for Teams, here.

By Dr. Brita Kiffney, WSVMA DEI Committee