After being pressured from a campaign against the use of ferrets in pediatrics training, the University of Washington has now said that it has replaced the use of ferrets with human-based medical simulators to teach future pediatricians.
This change is the result of a campaign by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), with work on the ground by the Seattle Animal Defense League (SADL), as well as support by members of other local animal advocacy groups and activists, and the willingness of UW to adopt current best practices. This could not have been done without the tens of thousands of supporters from PCRM, SADL, the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) , and others who flooded UW administrators with e-mails and written petitions over the past year encouraging the school to take this progressive step. And UW finally listened!
A UW spokesperson stated that instead of ferrets “tetherless simulators are being employed at the point-of-care at the bedside to simulate resuscitations and enhance teamwork among healthcare providers,” and that ”simulation will be a more cost-effective way to train intubation techniques.”
Ferrets used in endotracheal intubation training at UW suffered through multiple intubations and were used for several sessions. Also, some of the animals used were later killed. Fortunately, the school has now joined the 95 percent of pediatrics residency programs in the United States that view nonanimal methods as not only more humane but educationally superior.
While this is indeed good news for ferrets, much more work needs to be done for the thousands upon thousands of other aniamls currently being used by the UW for research. Let us use this victory as a springboard to get more positive results for others.