SciEd Conference Poster
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See Us-Be Us: Inspiring Future Veterinarians Using a Veterinary STEM Ecosystem has as a long-term strategy to establish a diverse veterinary workforce by uniting veterinary colleges, veterinary work settings (practice, research, industry, government), and community entities serving disadvantaged youth in this important mission. Diverse veterinary role models and veterinary STEM educational materials will be provided to K-12 students to facilitate career exploration and experiential learning opportunities. It is anticipated that a veterinary-scientist workforce that reflects societal demographics will improve health literacy and reduce health disparities in people and their animals. The ecosystem has been developed within the framework a veterinary superhero league, The League of VetaHumanz.
Overarching Goal: See Us-Be Us aims to establish a diverse veterinary workforce by developing a far-reaching, inclusive veterinary STEM ecosystem consisting of veterinary colleges, veterinary work settings (practice, research, industry, government), and community entities serving disadvantaged youth. The ecosystem will increase interest and preparation for careers in veterinary medicine by creating STEM resources that provide K-12 students diverse veterinary role models, either in-person, or indirectly through print and digital media interactions. The ecosystem will communicate the impact of veterinary medical research on public health and animal health challenges, while facilitating career exploration and experiential learning. Since the start of funding on September 1, 2020, the veterinary STEM ecosystem proposed in the parent grant has expanded beyond academia by transforming into a veterinary superhero league, the League of VetaHumanz.
AIM 1: Establish an army of diverse, equity-minded veterinarians to provide socioeconomically or educationally disadvantaged K-4 students direct, supportive veterinary role models.
As of April 30, 2021, 24/33 (72.7 %) US veterinary colleges in 21 states are participating in How We “Role” chapters through League of VetaHumanz. A total of 257 veterinary medical students and 37 faculty veterinarians are certified role models. Each veterinary college partners with one or more community partners supporting underserved children to deliver our curriculum in their communities. Additional academic chapters include our first pre-veterinary chapter at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and our first non-US veterinary college, the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine. Beyond academia, we launched an industry chapter at Elanco Animal Health in Indiana and have partnered with Compassion First Pet Hospitals to pilot chapters in two of their practices. Additionally, individual veterinarians are becoming certified role models. We have focused on role model certification as in-person community visits are not allowed at this time. We expect all US colleges of veterinary medicine to eventually participate, generating at least 300 new veterinary professional role models annually, who are promoting the diversity of the veterinary profession and preparing educationally or economically disadvantaged children for veterinary careers.
AIM 2: Develop SuperPower Packs, an innovative strategy to provide impactful and engaging veterinary STEM educational experiences to disadvantaged children lacking access to direct supportive veterinary role models.
Two SuperPower Packs, Stat! and Do You Have Diarrhea? have been produced. Each SuperPower Pack contains: an educational game, a VetaHuman collectible card, a note from the featured VetaHuman, an official League of VetaHumanz cape, a sticker, and a brief postage-paid evaluation survey for the child to complete and return. We will begin distribution of 8,000 SuperPower Packs, and evaluate self-guided use, this summer.
AIM 3: Develop a Web-based, virtual networking hub for middle and high school students to learn about veterinary professionals who are from similar diverse racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds, find specific career information, and to take advantage of experiential and mentoring opportunities.
Currently, The League of VetaHumanz website (www.VetaHumanz.org) features over 30 VetaHumanz (with over 62% underrepresented minorities) from academia, government, private practice, and industry, who share their personal career journeys. The site has reached over 4,600 unique users (from 49/50 states (missing W. Virginia) and 75 countries) with nearly 16,000 page views. A VetaHumanz Live! podcast, featuring select VetaHumanz who have shared their stories, is in development.
Direct role modeling through community partnerships
Remote role modeling through Website and SuperPower Packs
Aspiring veterinarians of all ages and STEM resources for K-4 students
Career Exploration in Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary STEM activities