As a Virginia resident, I am asking that the University of Virginia (UVA) replace the use of cats in its pediatrics residency program. As our state's preeminent educational institution, UVA must adhere to the highest standards of training and ethics.
Animal use is an outdated and ineffective way to train pediatricians in the skills needed to treat patients safely and effectively. Only nine of 186 surveyed pediatrics residency programs (5 percent) in the United States continue to use animals for endotracheal intubation training. The overwhelming majority of pediatrics residency programs have made the switch to better and more humane training and it is time for UVA to do the same.
Simulators such as Gaumard's Premie HAL and PREMIE Blue—designed to replicate a premature newborn, including the airway—and Laerdal's SimNewB—which was designed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics—are validated and used widely to teach endotracheal intubation.
It is time for UVA to adapt pediatrician training to modern standards. As UVA's president, you have the responsibility to ensure that physicians at your school receive the best training possible. I ask you to make the switch in UVA's pediatrics residency program from the cruel and outdated use of cats to human-based, validated simulation.
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