A lot has happened since the first quarter of this year. In fact, the whole world has changed, leaving us sitting in the midst of a global pandemic, thinking proactively about next steps for the ACVIM as an organization and knowing that our day to day life may never be like it used to be. At the same time, we have witnessed national awareness of social injustice rise around us. In a statement last month, I acknowledged the need for the ACVIM to step up to lead changes in specialty medicine. By working with other organizations within our profession, we hope to lay the foundation for equality in the future.
While some members do not think the ACVIM should be taking a position on injustice and equality, others would like to see more action taken and expect and appreciate a leadership position from the ACVIM. While respecting that members of our organization have differing perspectives, I believe that diversity is critical to the health, well-being, and sustainability of any organization in any field. As mentioned in my statement earlier in June, we are committed to maintaining a community of inclusiveness that respects the variable backgrounds and values of its members, candidates, staff, and partners. We begin with four steps to bring that statement to life, defining the role for the ACVIM as leaders within the veterinary profession. Recognizing, organizing, leading, and educating (ROLE) outline the direction for which we hope to have productive movement.
While we recognize that we have a long road ahead of us, we are striving to do better and to do more. We are working to establish the framework for inclusivity and diversity within veterinary specialty medicine. Recognizing the inequality around us is a critical step to taking action.
The ACVIM is taking action, beginning with listening and learning about the inequalities in our country and within the veterinary specialty profession. We are starting by commissioning an ACVIM Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that will lead conversations and initiatives centered on equality. Our goal is to create tangible movement as it pertains to our niche in veterinary medicine. I’d like to encourage you to get involved and share your voice. Please contact me directly if you are interested.
We believe taking action on the lack of racial diversity in the field begins like many other things, with awareness. With 92.8% of veterinarians (2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics) in the workforce identifying as white, it is clear we have a long way to go toward true diversity within the profession. It is my hope that initiatives led by the ACVIM will catalyze discussions on implicit bias, help those who want to get involved, and energize those who are already involved in change initiatives.
Effective change and growth are only possible where there is education, a necessary tool to help each of us step out of our comfort zones and address uncomfortable topics. The ACVIM will provide educational opportunities related to diversity and inclusion, with the goal of creating and supporting allies for effective and lasting change.
Our mission is to enhance animal and human health by advancing veterinary internal medicine through training, education, and discovery. In order to achieve this, I believe we must first take care of one another.
Linda Fineman, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Chief Executive Officer, ACVIM