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  1. News Release

  2. Oct 1, 2021

Doctors’ Billboards to Sanford Medical Center: “We Can Help You Stop” Using Animals for Medical Training

Accompanying Letter From 250+ Physicians Urges Hospital to Change

FARGO, N.D.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which boasts 17,000 physician members, is calling on Sanford Medical Center Fargo to modernize its Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program by ending the use of live animals. Along with a letter from more than 250 physicians from across the country, the national nonprofit has installed billboards addressing the issue. The doctors hope that Sanford will make the switch ahead of its next course, scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19.

Sanford’s ATLS program, which is conducted at North Dakota State University (NDSU), instructs trainees make incisions and insert tubes and needles into an animal’s chest cavity, abdomen, throat, and the sac surrounding the heart. According to a recent survey, Sanford’s is the only accredited ATLS program in the U.S. and Canada using live animals. Programs elsewhere in the Dakotas—at Altru Health Systems, St. Alexius Medical Center, Avera McKennan Hospital, and courses run by the South Dakota ATLS Taskforce—use nonanimal methods alone.

“It’s only a matter of time before Sanford updates to human-relevant and humane ATLS course training methods,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, director of academic affairs at the Physicians Committee. “We are urging them to make this change a priority—as it should be—and to make the switch to modern, animal-free training ahead of their next course, which is currently planned for Oct. 18 and 19.”

The billboards feature a clean design and the image of a pig looking at the reader. They read “Still using animals for medical training? Get in touch. We can help you stop.” The two ads are located on I-29, 2730 feet and 2400 feet north of mile marker 64; both face south.

The Physicians Committee’s letter points to other respected institutions that support nonanimal training methods for ATLS programs. The American College of Surgeons, which developed and accredits ATLS courses, has endorsed the replacement of animals with simulation for training since 2001, and the U.S. Department of Defense ended its use of live animals for ATLS training in 2015.

To see the billboard artwork or the letter from physicians, or to speak with Dr. Pippin, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at]

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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