Current News

Ensuring Success in a Diverse World

January 7, 2016

Fourth year student Jennifer Norman (center) works on a sea turtle with Dr. Doug Mader '86 at his FL practice.

Fourth year student Jennifer Norman (center) works on a sea turtle with Dr. Doug Mader '86 at his FL practice.

Veterinary medicine is one of the least diverse health professions (according to The Atlantic in 2013), but UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is on the forefront of changing that to better reflect our society and to ensure the school’s continued role as a leader and ambassador for animal health. 

To meet the needs of our increasingly diverse society, Dean Lairmore committed funding for ten faculty members and ten students to participate in an on-line Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine Certificate program offered by the Center for Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine—a partnership between the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

Jennifer Norman, Class of 2016, was the first veterinary student from UC Davis to complete the new certificate program and found the experience extremely insightful and relevant as she started her clinical year. She shared a few insights:

"After completing the online modules I feel anyone working in any capacity related to veterinary medicine – whether a DVM, a student, or a veterinary school’s administrative staff – would benefit from lessons on diversity and importance of understanding and including all groups of our society. The program highlighted the background and overarching need for diversity within the profession, as well as introducing ways to incorporate this knowledge into any veterinary clinic.

Working through the program’s modules, a couple important points about diversity were discussed.  One worked through the history of diversity in veterinary medicine, and then showed how increased diversity would help the public find us more relatable and trustworthy. The other was the importance of having different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds to help continually influence and change our profession for the better. These are all points I have heard before, scattered throughout my education, but having it condensed and presented in a uniform format solidified the importance of actively working to expand diversity within our profession.

Another aspect I found very useful was the separate learning modules for the variety of topics that must be covered when addressing diversity issues – the LGBT community, race relations, persons with disabilities, and generational diversity just to name a few.  Each of these groups, and many more, were discussed in detail, and then scenarios were presented as examples of how to be mindful of every group within our society. After completing these modules, I feel much more confident that going into my clinical year that I will be able to better connect with the clients. These skills will also carry over into future jobs, helping me build my own clientele and manage other employees. Not talking about issues related to diversity is not the answer to furthering our profession. Understanding the history, where we are at now, and how we can move forward is the positive approach the veterinary community needs. I am so grateful I had the chance to participate in Purdue’s certificate program, and hope others will take advantage of the opportunity as well."

Program participants will complete a series of learning modules, as well as community engagement and cultural experiences, to enhance their skill in navigating the diversity of generations, sexual orientation, ability, gender, race and ethnicity. Certificates and nine hours of continuing education credit are awarded upon program completion. Participants have up to one year to complete the program.

The Center offers virtual resources and on-line certificate training programs designed to provide veterinary students, professionals and support staff with the skills they need to be successful in an increasingly diverse world. Current programs focus on skills in:
•    Communication
•    Leadership
•    Teaching and Learning
•    Cultural Competency

Further information on the Center and certificate programs can be found here.