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ARCHIVE - Cats And Pigs Aren't People. Must Nursing Students Hurt Them?

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Plainly, cats are not people. Neither are pigs.
But the University of Michigan thinks they’re close enough to train future nurses in a Survival Flight course. This hurts animals and people. Students learn skills that aren’t applicable. Size, location and texture of a cat’s organs differ considerably from those of a human. Would you want a cat-trained practitioner to push a tube down your windpipe? (Well, maybe if you are a cat).

UM nursing students forcibly intubate cats and stab needles into the hearts and bones of pigs. This would be absurd if not so tragic. UM already uses human-patient simulators in Advanced Trauma and Life Support courses. Anatomically advanced simulators, along with human cadaver systems and hospital rotations, prepare trainees for human encounters. Animal labs do not. Dr. Emad Aboud — co inventor of a system that pumps specially dyed water into a human cadaver’s vessels and arteries — says animal-free models are more accurate, affordable and “the perfect alternative to live animals in surgical training.”

Politely insist that University of Michigan Survival Flight courses exclusively use animal-free teaching tools.
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Dear Mr. Kolars, Mr. Lowell, Mr. Rush and Mr. Forrest:

I am deeply concerned about training methods used in a University of Michigan Survival Flight course for nurses. Intubation is practiced upon cats (acquired from animal shelters in the past) in repetitive drills that call for trainees to drive a rigid plastic tube down a cat's fragile windpipe. Trauma response exercises require students to carve holes into the limbs, throats and chest of pigs. They jab needles into the pigs' hearts and bones as well. All animals are killed.

This is not a matter of whether UM abides by basic care standards set forth in the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. It is simply that these animals do not need to undergo confinement, invasive procedures and death in the first place.

UM already uses more applicable and human-based simulators to teach the same skills in other courses. Please replace all live animal labs with human-focused technologies. The American College of Surgeons endorses TraumaMan System as a viable tool to practice lifesaving skills. The Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association also approves of animal-free simulators.

Anatomically advanced simulators, along with human cadaver systems and real-life hospital rotations, cut costs and improve proficiency. They allow for more in-depth feedback and assessment of student performance, while reducing dropout rates.

Conversely, animal models are inconsistent with the human experience. Incision pressure differs from species to species. Shape, angle, texture and elasticity of organs also vary between species.

Given the accessibility of capable and superior alternatives — there is no valid reason for live animal labs in any curriculum.

Thank you,

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Joseph Kolars, Mark Lowell, Howard Rush
UMHS — Survival Flight

B1 352 TC-5307
1500 East Medical Center Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
ph: 734-936-6045

Stephen R. Forrest, Vice President for Research
Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)

Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) University of Michigan
4080 Fleming Building
503 Thompson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340
ph: 734-764-1185
fax: 734-763-0085

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