The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University was among the first U.S. veterinary schools to make an effort to move away from traditional protocols in animal use, and toward alternative approaches for their veterinary student teaching program. They have taken steps to transition their curriculum from one that involved terminal procedures for surgical teaching labs to a program that discourages the use of healthy animals in invasive or terminal procedures.
And a recent $100,000 grant is helping the school further their commitment to using alternative approaches.
With this generous grant, the veterinary school will begin construction of a new state-of-the-art simulation lab for veterinary students so that they can get hands-on surgical and clinical training without having to use live animals.
The lab will contain life-sized simulated animal models, including dog and cat simulators, that students will use to practice procedures ranging from catheter placement to dentistry. To facilitate students getting more practice mastering these procedures, the center will operate as a lending library, allowing students to check out simulation models to use within the lab or even to take home.
Students will also have the opportunity to learn procedures on larger animals, such as cows and horses, using large-animal simulator stations, which will also be available at the facility.
The school’s dean, Dr. Deborah Kochevar, noted, “We aim to create an environment where students are comfortable admitting when they need extra time or hands-on experiences to develop their skills, whether they are in their first semester or last clinical rotation.” Faculty at the school recognize that the use of simulators can make students feel more at ease practicing basic techniques than working on live animals, and with the simulators, students can get as much practice as they need and learn at their own pace.
Faculty also note that the use of animal simulators in veterinary training has been expanding over the last several years. NAVS is encouraged to see that more veterinary schools are embracing the use of alternative methods for the training of their veterinary students, as doing so reduces the unnecessary or harmful use of animals for this purpose.
Sources: “Grant supports hands-on surgical and clinical veterinary training simulation lab,” Tufts Now Website, June 26, 2017; “Animal Use in the DVM Program,” Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Webpage