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Pawsitively Vital: Celebrating World Veterinary Day 2023

At A Glance

World Veterinary Day 2023 is focused on highlighting the progress made with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of veterinary medicine.

  • This year’s official theme is “Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness in the Veterinary Profession.”
  • Despite still being predominantly white, the veterinary profession is increasingly seeing professionals from various backgrounds and nationalities pursuing careers in veterinary medicine.

Last Updated on: Apr 28, 2023


The World Veterinary Association (WVA), in cooperation with HealthforAnimals, has announced this year’s World Veterinary Day (WVD) theme to be “Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness in the Veterinary Profession.”

World Veterinary Day 2023 will be celebrated on April 29. And this year, the focus will be on tackling issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the veterinary profession.

World Veterinary Day was first celebrated in 2000 to celebrate the collective efforts of veterinary professionals. This year, the event aims to shed light on inclusivity issues that continue to plague the profession, as well as the areas of breakthrough around veterinary policies and practices.

According to the WVA, embracing diversity translates to creating safe spaces for everyone to feel heard, valued, and respected — regardless of their race, sexuality, class, education, or socio-economic background.

The two organizations will also confer the World Veterinary Day 2023 Award to a community member who best embodies and promotes this year’s theme. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the issues surrounding DEI in the veterinary profession. We’ll also discuss the work of some outstanding individuals fighting for change in the field.

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Discrimination and Bias in the Industry

Recent statistics show that a vast majority of veterinarians in the US workforce were White — 92.8%, to be exact, making the veterinary profession one of the least diverse in the healthcare sector.

Underrepresented and minority veterinary professionals in the US have been at the receiving end of unfair and offensive treatment throughout their careers, from insensitive comments and discrimination from pet owners to unfair treatment even from colleagues and superiors.

Going by statistics from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the commission receives tens of thousands of workplace discrimination complaints every year, with sexual and racial bias consistently topping the list of these allegations.

Needless to say, there is a need to increase diversity not only in the veterinary profession but also in the entire healthcare industry. With increased diversity comes reduced health disparities, better access to crucial, life-saving resources, and improved health outcomes overall.

In addition, fostering inclusivity through DEI initiatives is a huge step toward creating a better workplace environment where everyone feels safe and appreciated.

world veterinary day 2023 - discrimination and bias in the industry

The US Census Bureau projects that the 2030s will become a “transformative decade” for the US population, with slower population growth and a shift toward increased racial and ethnic diversity.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is spearheading much of the efforts in advancing inclusion and diversity in the veterinary profession, primarily by approaching deep-seated issues holistically instead of through standalone initiatives.

The AVMA has reportedly been more active in engaging LGBTQ+ members, Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color (POC) within the veterinary community to participate in the association’s educational program podcast. Diversity and inclusion agenda are also mandatory inclusions in summit presentations.

In addition, the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has launched the DiVersity Matters initiative, geared toward increasing diversity in veterinary colleges nationwide. The initiative’s lead, AAVMC senior director for institutional research and diversity, Lisa Greenhill, Ph.D., wrote a book titled “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine” with an introduction written by Dr. Willie M. Reed of Purdue University.

Reed’s powerful introduction offers a glimpse of what can be achieved when diversity and inclusion are taught in schools — and what still has to be done to improve diversity and inclusion in the profession:

“If there is a national consensus that diversity and inclusion are necessary competencies of graduating veterinarians, a belief that a diverse and inclusive environment enhances excellence in the educational experience, and acceptance of the business case for diversity currently espoused by corporate America, will colleges of veterinary medicine fund diversity efforts and sustain them during downturns in the economy, or when there is a swing in the political pendulum?

If we truly believe the veterinary profession is strengthened by many perspectives and approaches to solving societal issues such as health care disparities, are we prepared to take hold of the well-meaning goals and objectives pertaining to diversity and inclusion that litter the strategic plans of our professional organizations and veterinary colleges, and make them a reality for the profession rather than just politically correct rhetoric?”

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What Can Veterinary Professionals Do to Promote DEI Initiatives?

Identifying one’s personal biases is the first step toward promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the veterinary profession. We all have our biases, but being self-aware is a crucial part of making a conscious effort to change problematic beliefs and make decisions that will impact others in the field for the better.

Veterinarians and other veterinary professionals can also promote DEI initiatives by:

  • Encouraging more people from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
  • Encouraging diversity through mentorship programs, providing financial support.
  • Creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated regardless of their race, gender identity, or sexual orientation are some ways to get started.
  • Finally, veterinary professionals can also encourage DEI initiatives by participating in industry-wide dialogues and conferences about diversity and inclusion.

These events are important for learning more about the current state of DEI in the profession and ensuring that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

The conversations during these conferences will help create a more inclusive environment in veterinary medicine, open doors, and create opportunities for people of different backgrounds.

Let’s look at some prominent spokespersons in the field who are doing their best to promote DEI in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Adam Christman

Dr. Adam Christman

Dr. Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, is a thought leader, author, and speaker on practice management and animal rehabilitation. He is also the chief veterinary officer for dvm360, overseeing content strategy and development for the brand. He also regularly hosts The Vet Blast Podcast and dvm360 LIVE!

With a TikTok channel pushing close to 1 million followers, the social media-savvy veterinarian has made it his mission to promote DEI initiatives in the industry, along with being an authority figure on proper pet care and pet health.

Dr. Christman hosts veterinary conferences that showcase DEI content and provides a platform for veterinary professionals who are also DEI advocates to educate others on important issues in the field. Part of his work includes inspiring children to choose kindness and value the bond between humans and animals.

“I’m extremely passionate about moving the DEI needle in the veterinary space. Creating a safe, diverse, and inclusive environment is important to colleagues and the community. As an openly gay man myself, I can attest to how important it is changing the landscape of the veterinary profession begins with all of us — and I am honored to be in a position where I’m actually doing it.”

Dr. Brittney Kilgore

Dr. Brittney Kilgore

Dr. Brittney Kilgore, DVM, CVA, is a feline-focused and integrative veterinarian. She is also certified in veterinary acupuncture through Chi University, and highly interested in holistic and integrative practice approaches to veterinary medicine.

“I’m very passionate about promoting wellness in our pets from an integrative and natural standpoint. Adequate diet, gut health, along with mental and physical stimulation, plays such a vital role in the health of our animals,”

As a person of color and a veterinarian practicing a non-traditional approach to animal health, Dr. Kilgore believes there is much work to be done. She is working hard to make integrative and natural therapies more accessible to pet owners regardless of socioeconomic background, especially since such services are typically considered “luxury” services.

Her approach is fresh, valid, and necessary — especially in the Western medical field, which has long considered traditional medicinal approaches from other cultures as “alternative” or “folk remedies.”

“I really hope to inspire other veterinarians and the next generation of vet professionals to look outside of what is taught in school and explore other areas of therapy,” she adds. “There is definitely a place in the world for many kinds of approaches to health and wellness, and I’m happy to be able to provide care from various approaches.”

Dr. Juan José Carro De La Cruz

Dr. Juan José Carro De La Cruz

Dr. Juan José Carro De La Cruz, DVM, is a Puerto Rico-based veterinarian with extensive experience in anesthesia and small animal surgery. His areas of interest are sonography, general surgery, anesthesiology, alternative medicine, and dentistry.

He is currently working at Clinica Veterinaria Gardenville as a full-time veterinarian. When he’s not attending to animals, Dr. De La Cruz teaches veterinary students at Universidad Ana G. Mendez, where he is currently a lecturer.

Dr. De La Cruz has extensive experience working with anesthetic techniques, small animal soft tissue surgery, general surgery, and emergency medicine. He has supervised veterinary students since his residency and internship days.

Dr. De La Cruz’s commitment to promoting animal welfare and his professional accomplishments have made him a role model for aspiring veterinarians, especially POCs, to enter the profession and pursue their career goals with confidence.

Dr. Jackie Gremley

Dr. Jackie Gremley

Dr. Jackie Gremley, DVM, MPH, is currently a Surgical Specialty Intern at
VOSM (Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine). She also served as a rotating intern at BluePearl in Sandy Springs, GA.

She believes women should be represented equally across all fields and works to advocate for other women in the veterinary profession.

“Until women are represented equally across all fields, it’s natural to feel pangs of anxiety or imposter syndrome as we settle into our careers, especially those of stereotype-driven expectations.”

Dr. Gremley believes women often wrestle with imposter syndrome and feelings of self-rejection in male-dominated spaces because of how things have been for the longest time.

“Get outside your head, connect with female mentors, change how you process negative emotions, and never apologize for taking up too much space. If you are constantly apologizing for expressing your feelings, setting boundaries, and sharing your opinions, you are showing others that you’re not worthy of taking up space,”

she added in a previous interview for Women’s History Month.

Dr. Claire Stevens

Dr. Claire Stevens

Dr. Claire Stevens, DVM, is an Australian veterinarian and a renowned author, animal trainer, business owner, TV presenter, and social media influencer. She is a well-known and in-demand animal health expert who has paved the way for women to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and animal science.

She is a passionate advocate for animal welfare and has written the “Dr. Claire’s Love Your Dog” book, which contains advice on animal care, pet nutrition, behavioral training, and more. She frequently appears on TV shows and grants magazine interviews, sharing her expertise with veterinarians, veterinary students, pet owners, and others interested in animal health care.

She also teaches a course on Effective Consultation and Communication Skills, which is recognized by the Australian Veterinary Association. A large part of her advocacy is empowering veterinarians to respond to clients’ concerns in an effective and professional way.

Dr. Kate Alucard

Dr. Kate Alucard

Dr. Kate Alucard, DVM, MPH, is a “queer nonbinary femme” and a staunch advocate of DEI initiatives in the veterinary space. She holds multiple certifications as well as significant experience in the field. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, Dr. Alucard is committed to promoting DEI initiatives in the field of veterinary medicine.

She is a Level 3 Fear Free Certified Professional and RECOVER CPR certificate holder in both basic and advanced life support. She has also been certified under AVMA’s Brave Space Certificate program, a learning curriculum that trains participants to better understand the people around them in order to create safer, more inclusive veterinary teams.

She served on the AAVLD and ACVP DEI committees as one of the only non-boarded members and was previously the president of Pride Student VMC.

In addition, Dr. Alucard is also a mentor at Pawsibilities Vet Med, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the veterinary profession. She has a growing TikTok channel, where she regularly publishes entertaining content about her personal life and advocacies.

Dr. Jeff Tinsley

Dr. Kate Alucard

Jeff Tinsley, DVM, is a Dermatology Resident at the Animal Dermatology Clinic of Louisville, KY. Prior to residency he completed a small animal rotating internship, a year of general practice and a derm specialty internship.

Dermatology is a small specialty in veterinary medicine, but one of the most common reasons pets visit the vet. Dr. Tinsley believes skin health is an integral component of an animal’s overall health and wellness. He treats many skin conditions (allergies, autoimmune disease, ear disease, skin cancer, and more) that cause significant discomfort and can significantly decrease a pet’s quality of life.

Dr. Tinsley has made it his mission to give animals with skin problems a new lease on life. He has fully embraced the title “Derm Dogtor Jeff” on his social media channels like Instagram and TikTok.

Aside from being a dermatological veterinarian, he is also an active advocate of DEI initiatives within the profession, and seeks to give back to the communities he is part of, through his efforts in the medical field.


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