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Wednesday, 22 March, 2017

Veterinary Medical Educators Convene for Annual Meeting


More than 300 educators and leaders in the veterinary profession gathered for the
AAVMC’s recent 2017 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium in

Washington, D.C.  Download photo here.

AAVMC President Dr. Douglas Freeman, 2016 AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award,
Presented by Zoetis Award winner Dr. Steven L. Stockham, and Zoetis Chief Veterinary
Medical Officer Dr. Christine Jenkins. Download photo here.
Washington, D.C., March 22, 2017
– More than 300 leaders and other stakeholders in academic veterinary medicine—the highest number ever—recently attended the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ (AAVMC's) 2017 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

They gathered to collaborate, honor achievements, share strategies and work toward building a better future for academic veterinary medicine.

Themed "Building a Diverse Workforce to Serve Global Needs," the conference focused on the development of diverse and inclusive environments within global academic veterinary medical institutions. Leading educators shared insights on building diversity and inclusiveness on campus through student and workforce recruitment, promoting intercultural competency, fostering appropriate culture and climate, and other topics.

The biennial Iverson Bell Symposium honors Dr. Iverson Bell, a visionary who spent his life serving both veterinary medicine and education and who fought for the rights of the downtrodden and oppressed. Dr. Bell’s vision was one of equal opportunity for all and he rose above his era’s pervasive stereotyping and racism to achieve great things.

Conference sessions ranged from “Bridging the Gap between Animal Care Professionals and the Spanish-Speaking Workforce,” to “Creating a Climate of Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Colleagues,” which focused on the importance of mentorship and supportive student groups such as Veterinary Students One in Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE) and the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association. Other sessions focused on programs that encourage students to immerse themselves in other cultures through global research or other international projects.  

Several sessions also focused on how to improve diversity in recruitment and admissions, from early attempts to interest K-4 students in veterinary medicine and other STEM careers to the use of more holistic, qualitative admissions practices.

In acknowledgement of the tremendous political changes underway in Washington, D.C., respected political analyst Peter Cook was invited to share his perspective and insights during a Friday afternoon plenary session. In a humorous and thoughtful presentation, Cook analyzed the factors that led up to one of the largest election upsets in American history and discussed the new administration.

During the AAVMC’s annual Advocacy Day on the day before the conference, more than 80 representatives conducted more than 140 visits with Congressmen, Senators and staffers. During the conference, The AAVMC presented several prestigious awards and honors, and on Saturday evening, a formal military retirement ceremony was held for AAVMC CEO Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe as he completed 24 years of military service as a veterinarian.

The 2017 AAVMC conference was sponsored by Boehringer-Ingelheim, Zoetis and AVMA-PLIT.

Immediately following the conference, an estimated 500 prospective veterinarians and guests attended the AAVMC’s 2017 Career Fair, also held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Students gathered information from more than a dozen veterinary medical schools at display tables staffed by college representatives, including admissions officers and deans.

In the exhibition hall, students and their parents asked questions and picked up informational materials about schools, admissions requirements, and veterinary careers.

After spending time in the exhibition hall, students attended information sessions on preparing to apply to veterinary school and heard a personal story about one speaker’s unique path to a career in equine veterinary medicine. Dr. Rachel Cezar outlined how she started showing horses at a young age, which led to involvement in the 4H Club and Future Farmers of America. She eventually attended veterinary school at Michigan State and is now the director of live animal imports for the United States Department of Agriculture.  

In the session on how to get into veterinary medical school, AAVMC Director of Admissions & Recruitment Affairs Tony Wynne told attendees that many factors determine the best school for prospective veterinary students, including “location, culture, climate and cost.”  

He stressed that it’s “important to get on a campus and talk to students” to obtain a realistic assessment of the school, based on real-life experiences, and warned about the two major reasons for an application’s rejection: (1) applying to a school for which the applicant is not qualified and (2) not reading or following directions.

Members of the student panel also stressed the importance of culture and values. “Vet school is not just hard to get into but hard to stay in,” said veterinary student Felix Rodriguez from Louisiana State University. “You can get good experiences no matter where you go, but find a place where you feel comfortable and can find a support system. I’m Hispanic and I wanted to go to a more culturally diverse place where I could speak Spanish with other people.”

During information sessions, students could answer questions to earn t-shirts that said, "I am a Future Veterinarian."

The AAVMC is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment around the world by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Members include 49 accredited veterinary medical colleges in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean Basin, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico.
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Cutline information:

Photo 1 – More than 300 educators and leaders in the veterinary profession gathered for the AAVMC’s recent 2017 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Photo 2- AAVMC President Dr. Douglas Freeman, 2017 AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award, Sponsored by Zoetis Award winner Dr. Steven L. Stockham, and Zoetis Chief Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Christine Jenkins.

Jeff Douglas or Jeanne Johnson
AAVMC Communications
Phone:  202/371-9195, x144

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