Apr 20, 2021, 08:44 AM
Dr. Linda Fineman
As we close out the first quarter of 2021, I’m reflecting on how quickly our world changed with the pandemic and how unsettled many things still feel. COVID massively disrupted all of the ACVIM’s ongoing projects and programs in the last year, I now see new opportunities to reprioritize our work in areas that are most meaningful and that can most positively impact ACVIM members and our communities. We’ve all been forced to learn change resiliency over the last year, a skill that will serve us well as we move into an uncertain future. I see 2021 as a year of growth and development for me as a leader and for the ACVIM as an evolving professional organization.
One of the areas the Board of Regents and staff
has prioritized is diversity and inclusion. Like the rest of the country, I have been reading the news and seeing racist violence, most recently against the Asian American community where the statistics are alarming. Stop API Hate (https://stopaapihate.org/), an organization that tracks acts of discrimination, hate and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders received nearly 3,800 reports in 2020, 68% of which were against
women. At the ACVIM, we are just beginning our journey. The recently convened Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Dr. Chamisa Herrera, has played a critical role in our development on these key issues. Seeing the value this group has already
provided and recognizing the ongoing need for their perspectives, the Board of Regents recently voted to create a standing Diversity
, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. With their input, the Board of Regents will incorporate work related to
DEI into strategic planning with the full support of the staff in executing on the board’s vision.
The ACVIM board is taking a clear position condemning racist violence. Over the last year, incidents tied to violence and systemic racism have continued to rise and making statements to condemn the behavior is only one small piece of addressing the broader
issue. As I work on educating myself on systemic racism, I’m focusing now on how I can better articulate the ACVIM’s voice on this front, recognizing the need to be very direct in the language used in condemning the violence and in recognizing
the pain our own members are experiencing. That’s not enough on its own: the ACVIM must also find ways to take action and provide resources for our many members who want to get involved in working towards solutions.
As the veterinary profession, and in particular specialty medicine, face the ongoing challenge of being overwhelmingly represented by white veterinarians, increasing diversity while finding ways to support the few people of color and members of
historically excluded groups will be critical. As I read about the Derek Chauvin trial and other recent examples of systemic racism resulting in gross mistreatment and death of people of color, it’s easy to wonder if there
is any hope of changing things for the better. Yet as I am reflecting on the lessons learned that we might be able to apply to veterinary medicine, I can see how we might begin to make a difference. In our profession we are fortunate to be seen
as trusted figures in our communities
and can use that trust to elevate those underrepresented in our field.
As we move into spring, a time of new beginnings, I invite you to learn more about ways to get involved
. Below is a list of key organizations working on diversity and inclusion within our profession. I encourage you to consider joining one or more group, where you have a chance to contribute directly to their organizational missions.
Dr. Linda Fineman, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Chief Executive Officer, ACVIM