Victory Announced in the Fight to End Animal Use in Medical TrainingPublished June 21, 2012
Flickr User thesniper
Outcry against certain injustices does work. Just last September, activists put pressure on the University of Indiana to stop using live cats for study, and they did.
I was thrilled again last week when I learned that activists had influenced another decision. Last week, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) made another exciting, victorious announcement that (due in part to the efforts of animal lovers) the University of Virginia (UVA) and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) have stopped using animals in student training.
MCW was the only remaining medical school that continued to use frogs, rats and rabbits in courses in physiology. UVA previously used and killed 120 rats each year in a graduate level microsurgery course for their medical school students.
After PCRM became aware six years ago that MCW was using live dogs in their first year physiology course; the organization began their efforts to stop the use of live animals in MCW's medical student curriculum.
But even though PCRM joined together with the Wisconsin Humane Society and were able to put an end the practice of using dogs in training, MCW instead just substituted dogs with pigs, apparently refusing to move toward a more humane and up-to-date model; human-based medical simulation. After several years of PCRM follow up, MCW did stop using pigs in their training.
PCRM has reached out to the administrators and faculty of UVA for the past four years to encourage them to stop using rats in medical student training in microsurgery, educating them about non-animal training methods, and offering available resources for their purchase. PCRM also suggested that medical students had no need for advanced microsurgery training.
As a result of their on-going outreach, the dean of the UVA medical school informed PCRM that the animal lab would be discontinued. The statement in part read: “The [UVA Curriculum Committee] voted to eliminate the microsurgery elective from the medical school curriculum based on the belief that the microsurgery skills acquired are not necessary for the M.D. degree. The elective is no longer a part of our curriculum. In place of this elective, the plastic surgeons will provide a microsurgery simulation experience using a simulator.”
While PCRM’s announcement bodes well for the animals formerly used in these two universities’ medical school’s training, PCRM’s work is far from finished. Despite vehement protests by the animal loving community, UVA still uses live cats and kittens in their pediatric training program.
The recent events in the animal world have shown us that we can make a difference. Take action. Tell the UVA President to stop using live cats in their Pediatric training program.
What are your thoughts about using live animals in medical training? Share them in a comment.