Valencia College Drops Live Cat Labs
Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla., is a National Community College of the Year award winner serving more than 52,000 students annually. Offering a wide range of preparatory programs in health care, the school trains many students who go on to become nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and other health specialists. Until recently, its EMS/Paramedic Program used live cats to teach students how to perform intubation on infants.
After continued pressure from local animal protection organizations as well as from PCRM physicians, Valencia announced its discontinuation of the practice and is working to put nonanimal alternatives in place.
Correspondence from PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., to the school’s president explained how the cutting-edge intubation simulators being utilized in many other training programs are superior to old-fashioned animal laboratories. As the size and anatomy of the mouth, nose, and internal organs differ between humans and cats, it is difficult for a student to apply skills learned in a live animal lab to a real-life emergency situation. Life-like models are reliable and inexpensive, and they provide a more exact replica for human systems. Naturally, additional experience comes from observing an experienced physician and then gradually assisting, with appropriate guidance. Valencia’s health care students are now getting a lesson in ethical medicine, as well as having access to the best training methods available. Their educational experiences will no longer involve harming animals and will prepare them to be more compassionate caregivers.