Improving medical education by ending live animal laboratories has been a priority for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine since it was founded in 1985. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we're almost there. Ninety-nine percent of schools now use high-tech simulators or other human-relevant methods. And two more were just added to that list.
We just learned that the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and Rush Medical College in Chicago - two schools we've been working on - have stopped using animals in favor of human-patient simulators. That leaves just two holdouts: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga.
The physicians who run these programs should know better. As a cardiologist who was trained on animals and who has led the Physicians Committee's efforts to end animal use in medical education, I can tell you that simulators are superior. They allow each student to repeat procedures, hone skills, and learn at his or her own pace - without harming animals, whose anatomies differ vastly from the human anatomy. Laerdal's SimMan 3G patient simulator is just one option that some medical schools are using. The video makes obvious the benefits medical students can receive from training on simulators instead of live animals.
But don't just take my word; 186 medical schools agree that simulators and other nonanimal methods are the solution. Now, it's time to add the last two to the list:
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Situation: Students are asked to perform surgical procedures on live animals as part of their surgery rotation. At the end of each session, the animals are killed.
Solution: The highly touted Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center already owns the simulation technology required to teach these practices.
Take action: Tell Johns Hopkins University to stop using animals for medical training.
University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga
Situation: Students practice surgical procedures on live animals as a part of their third or fourth-year surgery clerkship. At the end of each session, the animals are killed.
Solution: The university's state-of-the-art Clinical Skills and Simulation Center could immediately replace the use of animals for teaching students basic surgery skills.
Take action: Tell the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga to stop using animals for medical training.