Is practising on animals the only way for surgical students to learn? Or is all experimentation on animals cruel, denying animals their basic rights? In a Student BMJ exclusive, Anthony Fleg talks to both sides
“We can't get it down,” shouted the doctors to be. “Try once more--we've got to intubate quickly,” yelled the surgeon in response. I remember the scene from 1997 as if it occurred last week--my first time in the emergency room; my first patient. At the time I thought little of the fact that this patient was four legged--a pig to be exact.
Now, however, something between “enlightening discussion” and “heated debate” is occurring over the use of animals for teaching clinical skills in medical school courses. The question is simple: do the educational benefits of operating on animals as part of medical training outweigh the downside--the loss of animals' lives? The query may be simple, but the answer is complex.
In Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia, this issue rose to prominence recently. The course in question is a two day life saving techniques laboratory offered as part