PrideVMC Spotlights Silver Partner Banfield Pet Hospital

Research shows that 90% of veterinarians identify as white according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making ours one of the most predominately white industries in the U.S. and the least diverse of healthcare professions.

The lack of diversity in our industry is something we all have experienced firsthand and this percentage, while high, is not shocking. If we want to change our profession, we first need to understand why this is happening.

At Banfield Pet Hospital’s recent Pet Healthcare Industry Summit a study was released which sheds some light on this issue. The study, commissioned by Banfield through Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, looks at when students decide to become veterinarians and why. The results are shocking: 57% of students surveyed had once considered becoming a veterinarian and 32% changed their mind before graduating college. What’s more, there are huge disparities in race. Of the students in high school and college who want to become veterinarians, 45% are white and 33% are black. Yet 75% of the applicants to veterinary college are white and 2.8% are black. There is clearly something happening that is discouraging black students from following their dreams to become veterinarians.

We need additional research to better understand why this is happening. Yet there is evidence that it is the stories we are telling black students about what it means to be a veterinarian that is causing this disconnect. According to the study, black students shared that 50% no longer wanted to become veterinarian because they were persuaded by someone else—a family member, friend, mentor or school counselor—to choose a different career. On the other hand, of the white students who changed their minds, 72% cited that they lacked confidence in their skills.

There is much that needs to be done to strengthen and diversify our profession. Data is critical to shining a light on these issues so we can truly make an impact and create systemic change. But data alone is not enough—we need to move to action. 

In response to this disparity, Banfield announced the launch of the Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition—an industry-wide effort to address these pressing issues and increase representation for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the veterinary Industry. This coalition will create resources for the wider profession which we will share out as they are developed. Through our collective action, our hope is to create meaningful change within our profession, ultimately benefiting our local communities and society as a whole.

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