BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will no longer train on live animals, Hopkins announced Wednesday.
Johns Hopkins has abandoned the use of live pigs to train students, joining all but one other U.S. medical school in forgoing a practice long criticized by animal rights activists.
“All 44 medical schools in the U.S. since 1979 have never used animals for teaching their students,” said Dr. John Pippin.
Hopkins told WJZ’s Rick Ritter that although its remaining four-session surgical training course with live animals was popular among students, the university felt it wasn’t necessary:
Last year, the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education convened a task force that included members from within and outside of Johns Hopkins, from our medical and undergraduate campuses, students who have opted in and out of the experience, and faculty educators from procedural and non-procedural fields. The task force produced a report earlier this year that concluded that while very highly valued by our students, this laboratory experience is not essential to the professional development of a medical student. Given that almost all medical schools have stopped using live animals in medical student education and that the experience is not essential, the School of Medicine has decided that the use of live animals in the surgical clerkship should stop. We did not come to this decision lightly. Indeed, it has taken a year and countless hours of time to reach this conclusion, which we believe is best for our students and faculty, as well as the public we serve.
Researchers at Hopkins are looking into simulators — something other medical universities like Harvard have been using.
“I think the only way to get good at doing a particular surgery or operation is do do it over and over again,” said Dr. Neel Kantak, Harvard Medical School.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is now the only remaining medical school in the U.S. still using live animals to train students.