Physician Profile: A Surgeon’s Perspective: William Morris, M.D.
William Morris, M.D., was an Army neurosurgeon for 20 years and spent another 15 years treating civilian trauma injuries. Now chief of neurosurgery at the Multicare Neuroscience Center in Tacoma, Wash., Dr. Morris first experienced the military’s use of animals in an Advanced Trauma Life Support course he took in 1985 while on active duty in Germany. The course involved performing tracheostomies and chest tube placement using live goats. He recalls the course in less than fond terms.
In a recent letter published in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Dr. Morris wrote, “Years ago, I took a training course similar to these using live animals. Even then I found the exercise cruel and useless. Pig or goat anatomy simply is not the same as a human’s.”
Dr. Morris believes rotations in civilian trauma centers and the use of simulators allow for superior education and preparation of military personnel. He performs most of his surgeries at Tacoma General Hospital, a Level II trauma center, where he regularly treats patients with head trauma, neck fractures, gunshot wounds, and other traumatic injuries.
“I treat many injuries that are very similar to those you would see in a combat situation,” says Dr. Morris. “What you learn from civilian injuries is directly applicable.”
Long an advocate for ending animal use in medical training, Dr. Morris was using simulators in trauma training courses he taught even 15 years ago. He is now joining PCRM in asking the military to move away from animal-based training to human-based methods.
In July, Dr. Morris met with two of his members of Congress, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks. He explained the need to replace the military’s use of animals with human anatomy-appropriate training methods. Both lawmakers serve on their respective chamber’s Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and could have a strong influence on the military’s training methods.