PCRM 2005: The Year in Review: Med Schools Go High-Tech—and Humane
PCRM has long encouraged medical schools to drop the use of live animals as teaching tools in favor of high-tech alternatives such as computer programs and simulators. Currently, only 22 medical schools in the country still use animals in their curricula, while 104 schools are now animal-free.
The surgery department at the University of Texas Health Science Center, in San Antonio, is a good example of the effectiveness of PCRM’s campaign. After being contacted by our staffers last fall, the department decided to stop using live goats to teach chest tube insertion and other techniques in three surgery classes. Instead, instructors will use a new teaching facility equipped with state-of-the-art simulators and virtual reality technology, which professors agree is better preparation for working on real patients. PCRM also confirmed that the medical schools at Brown University and Howard University have stopped using live animals.
In the coming months, PCRM will step up its efforts to convince the remaining schools still using animals that nonanimal teaching methods are superior ethically and educationally. Given the popularity of new medical simulators such as SimMan and SimBaby—which spurred major stories on National Public Radio and in the New Yorker magazine in 2005—medical schools have no reason not to adopt modern alternatives.