Some would argue that this course is necessary to teach students valuable information about physiology. But what use is pig physiology to future doctors who will be treating human patients? No use at all, according to the vast majority of medical schools. Of all 187 accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, only UMMC and one other school, Oregon Health and Science University, still teach students physiology by having them perform procedures on animals. The rest of the medical schools -- including the very top medical institutions -- use high-tech simulators and other human-relevant methods. Of the 32 U.S. medical schools opened since 1979, not one has ever used animals for medical student education.
UMMC already has the resources to switch to a curriculum in step with these schools. Simply by making full use of its already operational Medical Advanced Skill and Simulation Education Center, the university could immediately end its use of animals. Do most medical schools use simulators and other human-relevant educational tools because they are more ethical, more humane? Perhaps. Do they use these tools because human models are more scientifically accurate and effective? Definitely.
I know that forward-thinking medical school faculty and administrators would not have made the transition away from using animals if they did not see a valid scientific reason -- a necessity, in fact -- to do so. Ethics aside, the science is enough to warrant a switch to simulation. Please www.switchtosimulation.org to learn more.