Applaud Decision to End Use of Live Pigs as Medical Dummies


Target: Southern Illinois University’s Dr. Christopher McDowell

Goal: Praise school administration for abandoning plans to use live pigs as training dummies

Advanced patient simulators now make more realistic training dummies than the live animals medical students once widely depended on. Given these technological advances it makes no sense that some major universities still have yet to redesign their medical training programs. The animals used as patient simulators end up tortured and eventually killed in the name of medicine.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reports that 86 percent of medical residencies across the country have already ceased using live animals. The emergency room residency program at Southern Illinois University (SIU) was the last in the state to pursue the use of live animals, but in 2014 abandoned plans to use pigs as medical training dummies. This decision came after PCRM organized letter-writing and picketing protests against the university, arguing that cadavers and computerized mannequins make more accurate and humane training subjects for procedures like cutting air holes in the neck and opening up the chest.

PCRM and responsible medical practitioners everywhere are celebrating SIU’s decision to turn away from using live animals, though the university declined to comment on what inspired its change of heart. Emergency medicine residency director Dr. Christopher McDowell “just wants the faculty to pursue other educational directions,” SIU spokesperson Karen Carlson told the State Journal-Register.

Applaud the example this sets for universities still supporting the use of animals as training dummies. Thank SIU and Dr. McDowell for making the ethical decision to depend on advanced technology rather than the torture and execution of innocent animals as a part of the emergency room residency program.


Dear Dr. McDowell,

I am overjoyed by your decision to end the use of live pigs in SIU’s emergency room residency program. Rather than be the last Illinois university medical program to embrace the cruel and outdated practice, SIU made a strong statement by refusing to support it.

Thank you for your dedication to pursuing alternative techniques and medical technologies in the training of future American doctors. Thank you for setting an ethical and compassionate example for other residency programs, and for ensuring your students will not be asked to perform inhumane acts in their such for an education.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Rikki’s Refuge via Flickr

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  1. Emily March says:

    Thank you! We’re hoping more universities, labs, training centres and … countries will follow suit!

  2. This is the 21st Century. Animals do NOT need to be used for medical research !!!! This MUST STOP NOW !!!!!!!!!

  3. Cecily Colloby. says:

    Whilst I am pleased these people are no longer going to use pigs this way, why are we praising them for making this decision?? The fact they were even contemplating doing so and were forced to re think by other right minded people , makes them very UN praiseworthy!!

  4. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    This is a great development; better late than never. Using animals for training purposes can give students a sense of entitlement and harden them to what someone else might be feeling or what might become of them. We sure don’t need any more arrogance in health care.

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