Beginning next month, one of the country’s premiere medical schools will no longer use live animals to train its students. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will be eliminating the controversial course in which students operate on live, anesthetized pigs.
Activists have been calling for an end to the practice for years, as after the surgeries, the pigs are euthanized. But the course isn’t ceasing due to the outcry from animal advocates. Instead, the school is retiring the curriculum because the course was not found essential after a year-long review.
Medical school spokeswoman Audrey Huang told the press that medical students have always given glowing reviews about the course.
“The students have historically always been huge fans of this course,” she said.
But because the school’s curriculum undergoes regular review “to make sure we’re teaching at the cutting edge and that nothing gets stale,” the board decided it was time for a change.
“The dean’s office and the task force that reviewed the course felt that the class isn’t essential for turning out a great physician in training,” Huang said.“And it was the essential aspect of it that led to the decision.”
A bill was introduced in the Maryland legislature this year to ban the practice.
According to the animal rights group the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM), the Baltimore-based university is one of two accredited medical schools in North America that use animals in medical education. Reportedly, the only other school to do so is the University of Tennessee College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga.
The group argues that future surgeons can practice using surgical simulations and virtual reality systems instead, reports CBS News.
Said John Pippin, M.D., and the group’s director of academic affairs:
“Simply put, pigs and humans do not possess the same anatomy. Students are best trained for their careers in medicine with advanced, human-relevant technology–not with live animals.”