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.
The lack of diversity (91.2% White) in the veterinarian-scientist workforce is a very serious concern and impacts the profession’s ability to serve a society undergoing dramatic demographic shifts. Veterinary colleges and professional organizations have put forth significant effort to recruit underrepresented students; however,
most efforts target high school students, a time when racial and ethnic disparities are already evident.
Meanwhile, young children are ruling out veterinary careers because of a lack of relatable role models. The overall vision of this team is to establish a diverse veterinary workforce by developing a far-reaching, inclusive veterinary STEM ecosystem consisting of US veterinary colleges (28/30 (93%) participating), veterinary work settings (practice, research, industry, government), and community entities serving disadvantaged youth. By working towards this critical vision, See Us-Be Us will be able to meet the goals of the 2014 NIH Physician-Scientist Workforce Working Group and the 2018 Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council. As a step toward this vision, See Us-Be Us will provide a supportive role model network and veterinary STEM educational resources to inspire and prepare underrepresented youth to pursue careers in veterinary medicine. This goal will be attained through three specific aims. The focus of Aim 1 is to establish an army of diverse, equity-minded veterinarians who will provide disadvantaged K-4 students direct, supportive veterinary role models. Veterinary medical students will be certified to deliver STEM lessons to children in communities surrounding veterinary colleges, while in school, and then after graduation, will be equipped and supported to continue this effort in their home communities. Aim 2 is focused on developing SuperPower Packs, self-guided veterinary STEM educational experiences that feature underrepresented veterinarians, for disadvantaged children lacking access to direct supportive veterinary role models. Aim 3 develops a Web-based role model networking hub and podcasts, for middle and high school students to learn about relatable veterinary professionals, find specific career information, and take advantage of experiential and mentoring opportunities. Combined, these aims will enhance opportunities for students from underserved communities, beginning in elementary school, to have authentic veterinary STEM experiences while being supported by diverse veterinary role models, as they advance through the educational pipeline. Elementary school teachers will serve as consultants to ensure that educational materials are consistent with Next Generation Science Standards, and will assist in training role models to better communicate the societal impact of their work. The ecosystem will continue to use the successful model of engaging students in STEM activities by communicating the impact of veterinary medical research on public health and animal health challenges. Ultimately, this project will educate and facilitate career exploration and experiential learning opportunities for K-12 students, particularly those from underserved communities, to careers as veterinary scientists.
Direct role modeling through community partnerships
Remote role modeling through Website and SuperPower Packs
Aspiring veterinarians of all ages with STEM resources for K-4 students
Career Exploration in Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary STEM activities