Good News: UC Davis No Longer Using Pigs in its Surgical Residence Program

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We received the good news below from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. We are so pleased to be able to share!

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) has replaced the use of live pigs in its surgical residency program with modern, human-relevant methods! Until recently, UC Davis was subjecting live pigs to up to 10 invasive procedures in a course designed to teach surgeons. Thanks to the Physicians Committee’s persuasive efforts, the university has officially switched to nonanimal training methods for ALL future courses! It’s heartening to know that future physicians will receive better training with these innovative methods without harming a single animal.

Sometimes it takes long public campaigns to convince huge universities to replace animals in medical training courses. But sometimes it only requires dialogue, as was the case here. In September 2021, we approached the surgery residency director at UC Davis with human-relevant replacement methods for the use of pigs to train future physicians. We supplied them with detailed information on which simulators are appropriate for the procedures they teach. Though we considered launching a public campaign, the simulation director stepped in to work with us on replacing animals. Finally, this spring, the university leaders confirmed they had stopped using pigs in their surgical residency program.

This victory is especially noteworthy because it did not require a public campaign. As you know, we typically begin a campaign by making a private appeal directly to a medical institution’s administrators. If that’s unsuccessful, we move to a public campaign involving a federal complaint, billboards, earned media coverage, attendance at university meetings, and sometimes public demonstrations. It’s an effective strategy, but it’s always better (and more cost efficient) when we can simply persuade the decision-makers in private.

We are hugely grateful to the UC Davis program directors for being open to this change and allowing us to assist so they could join the 79% of surveyed general surgery residency programs in the United States that use only human-relevant training methods. Unfortunately, many other medical centers refuse to modernize their curricula, and that is where you can help! Please tell the University of Arizona-Tucson to replace the use of animals in its general surgery residency program today.

Thank you for all you do to support our efforts in modernizing medicine and creating a more compassionate world!

Very truly, John J. Pippin, MD, FACC
Director of Academic Affairs
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine      

From email communication sent by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, May 25, 2023.

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