NASHVILLE–The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a national nonprofit of more than 12,000 doctors—is urging Vanderbilt University to end animal use in its emergency medicine residency training, in favor of human-relevant training methods. The doctors group held a demonstration with Nashville-area residents and delivered a petition to the university. The group also installed two billboards in Nashville featuring supporting messaging.
Thursday morning, concerned members of the public and Kerry Foley, MD, held a demonstration outside Vanderbilt University Medical Center, carrying a banner and signs that read “End Animal Labs” and “Modernize Medical Training.” The group delivered 53,453 signatures on a petition urging Vanderbilt to modernize its medical training by eliminating animal use in its emergency medicine residency program.
In addition, the group installed two billboards in the area. One billboard, located on I-24 at Woodland St. (facing north), features a doctor giving a thumbs down and reads “Vanderbilt: First, Do No Harm. Stop Using Live Animals To Teach Human Medicine. NashvilleDeservesTheBest.org.” A second billboard, located on West End Ave., east of 21st Ave. (facing west), plays on Vanderbilt’s “Anchor Down!” call, featuring an anchor and a stethoscope and reading “Anchors Aweigh! NashvilleDeservesTheBest.org.”
Currently, 94 percent of surveyed emergency medicine programs (234 of 249) across the United States and Canada train residents without using animals, employing only modern nonanimal training methods instead. At Vanderbilt, however, trainees are instructed to make an incision into a pig's chest to insert a tube, place a catheter in a large vein, and insert a needle below the breastbone to remove fluid from the sac surrounding the heart. At the end of each session, the animals are killed.
“We’re here to tell Vanderbilt that there is a better way to train physicians,” says Dr. Foley, who earned her MD and completed her residency at Georgetown University before beginning her 26-year career practicing emergency medicine. “Nonanimal methods are tried and true in at least 234 emergency medicine programs because they are modeled after human bodies and allow for repeated practice, making them significantly superior to live animals like pigs.”
To speak with Dr. Foley, for a copy of the petition, or for copies of the billboard creative, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or RPohl [at] PCRM.org.
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.