Peter KM, Smith IEVeterinary Technology Program, Foothill College
Problem—The use of animals for invasive, repetitive, or medically unnecessary procedures raises ethical concerns for faculty and students alike. Alternative methods that minimize the use of animals while maintaining or improving pedagogical standards exist, but are not widely incorporated into the veterinary technology curriculum. This is largely because outdated ideas regarding the perceived essential need for using animals to teach and learn hands-on skills persist in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Approach—This article surveys the available animal alternative and simulation technologies proven effective in teaching veterinary technology students clinical skills and discusses opportunities to restructure the process of teaching and leaning and curriculum once such technologies have been acquired, implemented, and integrated. Also examined are commonly advanced concerns regarding the adoption of such technologies and their perceived negative and potential positive effects on pedagogy and student learning.
Observations—Veterinary medicine often benefits from incorporating technology, methodology, and pedagogical insights from human medicine. Strategies and procedures that were once reserved for human patients are now being used to diagnose and treat animal patients. A similar trend can be found in the context of medical education. Technology, methods, and insights developed to teach human medicine have been successfully adopted or modified to train veterinarians and veterinary technicians
Conclusions—More widespread adoption of simulation technologies would enhance the hands-on clinical training in veterinary technology programs. The goal is to graduate confident and highly skilled students and at the same time lessen the dependence on and use of live animals. Integration of these technologies not only reduces the use of animals but also is pedagogically sound and a highly effective strategy.