University of Minnesota Ends Sheep Lab
The University of Minnesota Medical School recently informed PCRM that it will end the use of sheep in its emergency medicine clerkship. This shift completes the school’s move away from animal use toward simulators.
On Aug. 27, Joseph Clinton, M.D., head of the school’s department of emergency medicine, sent a letter to PCRM stating that the university has “markedly curtailed the use of live animals for medical student education in Emergency Medicine” and “will have completely phased out their use by December 31, 2009.”
The announcement follows the official complaint PCRM filed in April 2008 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture citing the university’s unlawful use of live animals. Since the complaint was filed, PCRM cardiologist John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., has written letters to university officials outlining human-centered alternatives that could replace the use of animals in the course.
“Our students are being taught using simulation models including some of those you cited in your communication,” Dr. Clinton wrote in his letter to Dr. Pippin.
Last year, the university replaced the use of pigs in its surgery clerkship with training tools in its cutting-edge SimPORTAL simulation center.
Only a handful of U.S. medical schools still use live animals for medical student training.