“A Day of Service: Believe & Belong in Veterinary Medicine”: NAVC Partners with Industry Leader in DEI at VMX


The North American Veterinary Community Partners with Veterinary Industry Leader in DEI to Inspire and Support Future Veterinarians

New Initiative Launches with Diversity-Focused Event on MLK Jr. Day, Jan. 16, 2023, for Orlando-Area Youth

The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) has announced its partnership with the nationally-recognized DEI BLEND program to provide inspiration, education and scholarship support to enable underserved middle school-aged children to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. The immersive, hands-on educational program will debut with a diversity-focused event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for minority students from Central Florida during the 2023 Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX). VMX is the world’s leading annual veterinary conference. It will be hosted in Orlando from Jan. 14 to 18 at the Orange County Convention Center. The event, “A Day of Service: Believe & Belong in Veterinary Medicine,” is sponsored by Banfield Pet Hospital, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Merck Animal Health.

Drs. Bruno and Perkins-Glover at a recent pipeline event with students.

Drs. Bruno (middle) and Perkins-Glover (left) at a recent pipeline event with students in Nashville, Tenn.

“We are passionate about providing ongoing education and mentoring to the veterinarians of tomorrow through our new initiative,” said NAVC CEO Gene O’Neill. “With only 6.7% of veterinarians being people of color and as few as 1.2% Black, the NAVC and BLEND are committed to creating more diversity within the veterinary industry by opening new doors for minority youth to pursue veterinary careers. It is particularly important to encourage youth today to consider a career in veterinary medicine because the shortages we’re facing will create an even greater need for veterinary professionals in the years to come.”

“A Day of Service: Believe & Belong in Veterinary Medicine” will be led by BLEND’s founder and CEO, Dr. Niccole Bruno. Participating students will learn about the various aspects of veterinary medicine from a diverse group of veterinary experts at VMX 2023. The program will begin Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at 9:00 am and run through 4:00 pm.

Activities planned for students include:

  • Hands-on experience using workshop stations to learn about veterinary surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine and preventive care. Students will practice intubation in the ER station using a model dog and will be able to observe other examinations completed by professionals.
  • Educational sessions on a variety of topics related to life as a veterinary student, the different pathways to veterinary medicine and a day in the life of a veterinary professional.
  • Special presentation from Dr. Joya Griffin, star of the Nat Geo WILD television series, “Pop Goes the Vet with Dr. Joya,” at VMX 2023 to learn about veterinary dermatology and the impact of her practice.
  • Networking lunch with experts from different practice areas of veterinary medicine.
  • Discuss the next steps for students interested in a veterinary career by providing access to scholarship programs, in-clinic shadowing and more.

At the end of the day, participants will be presented with a certificate verifying they’ve earned five hours of education in veterinary medicine. Parents and guardians of participants are highly encouraged to attend a special informative BLEND session that will walk them through the pathway to veterinary medicine from a parental perspective.

“The topic of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been a passive movement in veterinary medicine for decades, and while many higher institutions and professional organizations have begun to address the need to invoke change in this space, statistically, there continues to be minimal change in representation,” said Dr. Niccole Bruno, the CEO & Founder of BLEND. “BLEND’s goal is to not only ensure DEI and a sense of belonging is embedded into the veterinary culture but firmly believes that representation matters in exposing black, indigenous and persons of color (BIPOC) to veterinary medicine.”

NAVC will continue to support these students after VMX, providing them with access to materials from Vet Set Go, https://www.vetsetgo.com/about. Students will also be given a list of local veterinarians interested in providing shadowing opportunities.

In addition to BLEND’s primary mission of creating education and training opportunities to inspire future veterinary professionals, another important goal is to make the field of veterinary science more inclusive through outreach programs like the MLK Day Jr. event.

Source: NAVC Press Release


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