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A record 389 educators from around the world registered for the AAVMC’s 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
Their focus: To consider strategies for building diverse and inclusive teams in work environments. The consensus: mission accomplished!
(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to view photo galleries of the conference.)
Registrants Tackle D&I Team-Building Strategies at 2019 AAVMC Conference
The evidence is clear. Diverse and inclusive environments improve group decision-making and promote organizational development. But achieving that goal involves more than tinkering with policies and procedures. It requires know-how and commitment.
Acquiring those skill-sets was the subject of the AAVMC’s 2019 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium – Themed “The Science of Building Effective Teams” – held March 8-10 in Washington, D.C. Registration exceeded past attendance records by almost 25 percent, which punctuates the importance and the timeliness of the topic in academic veterinary medicine today.
Registrants from all over the world explored the subject through dozens of expert presentations, workshops and other gatherings. They heard from colleagues at other AAVMC institutions that have pioneered effective strategies and programs. They also heard from respected experts like social scientist and author Dr. Scott E. Page, NIH scientist Dr. Kara L. Hall and Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jascik.
Page challenged the group to “see diversity as improving the profession… and then act to make it so” during in his presentation. The acclaimed University of Michigan professor cited evidence which demonstrates that diversity in groups improves performance in addressing complex tasks because diverse group members think differently and think “harder.” Smaller teams “disrupt,” in the sense of creative and inventive change, and larger teams develop change, he said.
Hall, who is considered a leading expert in the science of “Team Science,” said building and sustaining diverse scientific teams is a necessary step toward solving complex problems. She stressed the importance of coordination in managing and facilitating collaboration, which is complicated by interpersonal, intersectional, technological, organizational and societal/political factors. One impediment to true collaboration in the higher educational environment, she noted, is that promotion and tenure systems still reward individual effort.
Jascik noted the decades long retreat of public support for higher education and said there is mounting pressure on Land-grant institutions, where many U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine are based, to focus on things other than their traditional mission of engagement. He discussed the implications of the woefully low enrollment of underrepresented minorities in colleges of veterinary medicine and suggested the need for role models and STEM programs for youth. He also warned about the potentially negative consequences of a possible ruling on an upcoming court case involving Harvard and affirmative action programs.
Registrants also had an opportunity to examine diversity and inclusiveness programs as described on 17 posters sessions, and the meeting included fertile opportunities for networking during meals and receptions.
During the two days prior to the annual conference, the AAVMC held numerous meetings for standing committees and working groups. The board of directors met on Wednesday, March 6, and the AAVMC Leadership Academy completed its third of three annual workshops. Major meetings were held for the Academic Affairs Committee, the Research Committee, different components of the Admissions and Recruitment Committee, the Diversity Committee, the Council for International Veterinary Medical Education (CIVME), the Veterinary Mental Health Practitioners, the Journal for Veterinary Medical Education editorial board and other groups.
On the AAVMC’s annual Advocacy Day, 84 educators representing 27 states and all AAVMC U.S. based institutions, spent the day discussing key issues in academic veterinary medicine with policy-makers on Capitol Hill. They visited 107 offices in the House of Representatives and 58 offices in the U.S. Senate, where they met with staffers and 33 different Members.
New Officers Elected During 2019 AAVMC Assembly
New AAVMC officers were installed, annual reports were shared by AAVMC executives and guests, and significant changes in policies affecting affiliate AAMVC member institutions were ratified during the 2019 AAVMC Assembly Meeting.
Dr. Michael Lairmore, dean of the University of California – Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, became President of the AAVMC, and Dr. Mark Markel, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, was voted in as President-elect. Dr. Calvin Johnson, dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine transitioned into the role of Past-President.
Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine was elected Secretary on the Board of Directors, and Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was elected Treasurer.
Both Johnson and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe shared reports on organizational initiatives and issues in academic veterinary medicine during the Assembly.
The group also heard presentations from three guests during the Assembly. Those included presentations on the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), the Veterinary Career Advisor Network (VetCAN), and the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy.
The Assembly also approved changes to the structure of the AAVMC affiliate institution program. New categories have been created to better define the nature and aspirations of affiliate members.
“Affiliate Member” now refers to affiliate members that include departments of comparative medicine and departments of veterinary science. “Provisional Member” refers to those colleges and schools of veterinary medicine which grant the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree or equivalent and are not yet accredited by or have not gained “reasonable assurance” from the Council for Education (COE). “Collaborative Member” refers to any college or school of veterinary medicine outside the U.S. and Canada which is recognized by its government as a professional school of veterinary medicine and is not seeking COE accreditation.
The assembly also approved petitions for membership from four new affiliate candidates. Those will be announced upon the completion of their formal applications as well as routine administrative procedures.
AAVMC Career Fair Inspires and Motivates Prospective Veterinary Medical Students
About 300 prospective veterinary medical students and guests converged in Washington D.C. on March 10 for the AAVMC’s 2019 Veterinary Medical Career Fair and Information Sessions.
The event was free for any high school or undergraduate student with an interest in the veterinary medical profession and featured representatives from about 25 veterinary medical schools who provided information and answered questions.
The event kicked off with a session on “I Love Veterinary Medicine: A Journey of Unlimited Possibilities,” by veterinarian Dr. Quincy Hawley. Hawley told the attendees about how he grew up surrounded by animals but never considered a career in veterinary medicine as a youngster. Eventually, however, “I fell in love with the veterinary profession,” he said.
That led to a varied career where he has worked in diagnostic laboratories, as a veterinarian for Banfield Veterinary Hospitals, and now as the co-founder of Get MotiVETed, LLC, where he and his team help veterinary hospitals, organizations, and individual members of the veterinary community to stay motivated and empowered to live fulfilling personal and professional lives.
Hawley inspired the prospective veterinarians with tales of his “amazing career and experiences working with so many different species,” from chickens and cows, to sloths, goats, llamas and reptiles. He has also worked with agencies like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Elanco Animal Health. Through diverse experiences he’s met people from six different continents.
His advice? “Go out and find experiences that are a little different, and if you can’t find the right experiences, create them.”
As an example, he outlined his struggles to try and obtain a veterinary internship experience as a student. After six consecutive rejections, he learned about a USDA internship at a Career Fair, landed the internship and found a mentor. That led to other fascinating internships, including one that he developed himself at a Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica.
“See failure as a stepping stone, and just keep going,” he said. “Applying to veterinary school can be daunting and nerve wracking but do it anyway and don’t stop if it’s what you really want.”
Next, attendees heard from the AAVMC’s Tony Wynne, director of admissions & recruitment affairs, who spoke on “Preparing for Veterinary School.” Wynne stressed the importance of fulfilling prerequisites and outlined the many factors to consider when applying to veterinary school, including “Location, culture and climate and cost.”
Wynn also told prospective students that the veterinary school application process is a two-way street. “Remember, they aren’t just interviewing you, but you’re interviewing them to see if it’s a good fit … I want you to understand that on the road to veterinary medicine, you have an enormous number of choices. It may seem complicated but planning and time management are key.”
Students who asked questions during the information sessions were able to win a t-shirt that said, “I am a Future Vet.”
After the information sessions, students and their parents moved to the exhibition hall where they met with school representatives, asked questions and picked up informational materials about schools, admissions requirements, and veterinary careers.