Event designed to increase diversity in the animal healthcare industry

ORLANDO, Fla. – JAN. 16, 2022 – The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) and nationally-recognized DEI BLENDVet program hosted more than 20 Central Florida middle school students for a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event, which took place at the Veterinary Meeting and Expo (VMX 2023), the world’s largest and most comprehensive annual veterinary conference. They enjoyed a day filled with immersive, hands-on activities with world-renowned veterinary professionals.

“We’re proud to have partnered with BLENDVet for this event to help inspire and open the doors for young people to pursue a successful career in veterinary medicine,” said Gene O’Neill, CEO of NAVC. “Only 6.7% of veterinarians are people of color, and as few as 1.2% are Black. The NAVC is committed to increasing diversity in the industry and will continue to support diverse individuals interested in veterinary medicine by creating education and training opportunities and hosting events similar to the Day of Service event.”

“A Day of Service: Believe & Belong in Veterinary Medicine” was led by BLENDVet’s founder
and CEO, Dr. Niccole Bruno. Students had the opportunity to learn about veterinary surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine and preventive care while wearing scrubs of their own. They also practiced intubation in the ER station using a model dog and observed other examinations completed by professionals. Parents and guardians of participants were invited to attend a special informative BLEND session that walked them through the pathway to veterinary medicine from a parental perspective. The premiere event sponsors included Banfield Pet Hospital, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Merck Animal Health. Hyatt, VCA and Zoetis were supporting sponsors.

“While attending VMX last year on MLK Jr. Day, I was inspired to create a pipeline event for
middle-school-aged students from underrepresented communities to expose them to veterinary medicine and educate them on the next steps to take if they decide to pursue a veterinary career,” said Dr. Bruno. It’s important for youth of color to see themselves represented and teach them about the specialty areas of study for future veterinary professionals. I didn’t see myself represented in this industry while growing up and I wasn’t aware of the next steps to take to become a veterinarian, so I wanted to pay it forward with this Day of Service. I hope our event will encourage more diversity in our field.”

The students benefited from hands-on experience using real veterinary surgical tools, learning how to suture, practicing intubation on a model dog, and observing how veterinary exams are performed on live patients, thanks to puppy volunteers. The “Day in the Life of Veterinary Professional” interactive workshops were led by a diverse group of veterinary professionals including:

● Joya Griffin, DVM, DACVD
● Courtney Campbell, DVM DACVS-SA
● Stephanie Jones, DVM, CEO/Founder Pets Help The Heart Heal
● Rhesa Houston, DVM, CEO & Founder of Assistance Animals Consulting
● Walter Brown, BS RVTg VTS (ECC)
● Adesola Odunayo DVM, MS, DACVECC
● Nia Powell (3rd year veterinary school student)

Additionally, students heard from industry professionals about life as a veterinary student, the different careers within veterinary medicine, and the day in the life of a veterinary professional. Parents also attended to learn what is involved in pursuing an education and career in veterinary medicine to support their children. At the end of the day, participants were each given a certificate verifying they had earned five hours of education in veterinary medicine. The NAVC and BLENDVet provided student participants with materials from Vet Set Go, scholarship information, educational materials, and contact information for local veterinarians interested in providing shadowing opportunities to help identify their next steps for success.

About the NAVC

The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
supporting and advancing veterinary professionals worldwide. The world’s leading provider of veterinary continuing education, the NAVC delivers essential training, tools and resources for veterinary professionals to stay abreast of advances in animal medicine and provide the best medical care for animals everywhere. Through its commitment to innovation and excellence, the NAVC has developed a diverse portfolio of products and services, including educational events, headlined by VMX, the world’s largest, most comprehensive continuing education conference and launchpad for new products and innovations within the veterinary industry; a robust digital platform for virtual learning and engagement; the veterinary industry’s largest and award-winning portfolio of trade publications; and an advocacy arm which unites the veterinary community and pet lovers.

The NAVC was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Orlando, FL. Since 2017, the NAVC has been recognized as one of the Top Workplaces by the Orlando Sentinel. To learn more about the NAVC’s products and brands, visit https://navc.com. To see our schedule of upcoming events, visit https://navc.com/calendar/.

About BLENDVet

BLENDVet is owned and backed by a diverse group of leaders in veterinary medicine.
BLENDVet offers a veterinary hospital certification program designed to train veterinary teams in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), and is the first of its kind to create an inclusive workplace culture geared toward fostering environments of belonging for teams and clients.



IVC Journal is a division of Redstone Media Group. Innovation is the key to veterinarians staying competitive and being able to provide their clients with the absolute best care possible. IVC Journal delivers the most up to date and compelling information available by bridging the gap between the traditional worlds of allopathic and integrative veterinary care.


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