Target: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Acting Dean John McManigle, MD, FACP
Goal: Commend the university’s commitment to end the use of live animals for the purposes of training medical students
For a few decades, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and other medical professionals and animal advocates have pressured medical schools across the country to cease their use of live animals for laboratories intended to train medical students. Recently, the country’s only military medical school, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), which is based in Bethesda, MD, confirmed that it will join most of the nation’s institutions of higher learning in refusing to include such training. In fact, USUHS Dean John McManigle wrote PCRM director of academic affairs John Pippin in an email, “Live animals are no longer used for training in the undergraduate medical curriculum.”
This decision marks a victory in a long struggle for animal rights at USUHS, where just twenty years ago the school broadcast intentions to include in their medical training an exercise in which students would shoot beagles, plans soon abandoned after the ensuing public outrage. However, the university, like many others, still carried out experiments and exercises involving live animals – the difference between USUHS and other colleges being that students may not opt out of such exercises or transfer schools, due to their military obligations. PCRM has been involved in urging USUHS and other medical schools still using live-animal training – there are four remaining in the States – to change their ways, and in the case of USUHS even petitioned the Department of Defense to step in, based on the department’s 2005 rule requiring the use of nonanimal alternatives as they are available. As we can see, their initiative is paying off, as Dean McManigle has confirmed that ethical alternatives like human patient simulators, which naturally provide a more realistic training experience than nonhuman animals.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Dean McManigle for helping to make the transition at USUHS from inhumane medical training procedures that rely on the use of live animals, to a more medically sound and ethical curriculum that refuses to torture animals for the betterment of human medicine. You are vocalizing your support for the university’s decision in the hopes that the four remaining medical universities in the US will follow suit.
Dear Dean McManigle, MD, FACP,
I am ecstatic to hear about the recent decision by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to cease use of live animals in medical training curricula. This is a fantastic step forward in the protection of animal rights, and in the updating of a medical school system in this country that no longer needs to use live animals, as options exist that represent more realistic, ethical alternatives, such as human patient simulators.
Thank you for taking part in a movement to free medical campuses from the unethical treatment of animals via live-animal operations and training procedures. Thank you for becoming an example to the remaining schools that still use live animals for medical training, affirming that we should all strive for a better, humane curriculum. Hopefully they will soon follow your lead.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: National Cancer Institute via Wikimedia Commons