Call for Alternative Non-Animal Methods to Be Used in Medical Training

A new survey has revealed that the majority of people want to see animals no longer used in medical training, which was published in Alternatives to Laboratory Animals. Animals are used in a select few medical training courses, such as advanced trauma life support and emergency medicine residencies.

More than 66 per cent of the survey’s participants said that using live animals is morally wrong to train medical students, especially when effective non-animal methods are available. Almost 83 per cent of participants believe that non-animal methods should be used, and 84 per cent said that they would want their doctor to be trained using methods that mirror human anatomy over non-human animals.

John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs at the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), said: “Experts have known for decades that animal use is a poor substitute for human-specific methods when learning about treating humans, but it can take time for the public to learn about treating humans, but it can take time for the public to learn about and come to trust new ways of doing things.

“Having the public’s encouragement to move forward and strive for progress benefits the sciences, which often rely on public support or approval.”

Professor Michael Balls contributed his thoughts on the topic, stating that education and training are two different things that must be distinguished. “This distinction is important, because it is very difficult to justify using animal in the education of school or undergraduate students not yet committed to any particular career.

“The training of doctors, nurses, paramedics and veterinarians is different, since, like electricians and plumbers, they need to be trained to reliably perform particular tasks. Nevertheless, the scientific case for using animals in their training is not a strong one, particularly as there are effective alternative ways of acquiring the necessary skills.”


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