After discussions with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver has ended the use of animals in its Essential Surgical Skills Course.
For years, UBC used live pigs to train family medicine physicians working in rural areas. In small towns, where specialists like surgeons and emergency physicians may not be available, primary care providers often must know how to treat traumatic wounds and stabilize patients until they can reach a hospital. Thankfully, all of the procedures they must know can be taught using nonanimal methods.
In January 2021, the Physicians Committee reached out to the course directors at UBC and were pleased to hear that they would consider replacing pigs for the upcoming May course. Our experts provided detailed information on which simulators may work best. The course teaches a variety of invasive procedures, including chest tube placement, in which an incision is made between the ribs and a tube is inserted into the chest cavity to drain fluid or air.
The directors embraced the simulator suggestions, and the May course was a huge success! Physicians Committee applauds UBC for being enthusiastic to change and ending the use of animals in this course.
We continue to work to end animal use in other areas of advanced medical training—including emergency medicine training, Advanced Trauma Life Support, combat trauma training, and paramedic training—and we need your help!