Animal Welfare & Student Benefits from Training Models
Dedicated clinical skills laboratories that make use of models, mannikins and simulators are being increasingly established throughout the world in veterinary schools.
Clinical skills laboratories that are well equipped with models, mannikins and simulators facilitate the progressive development and vertical integration of skills throughout the veterinary curriculum.
Traditionally, manual skills have been acquired through practice on animals. Availability and financial constraints have made this approach more difficult.
Societal attitudes toward educational animal use, particularly with invasive procedures, have changed in recent decades. Regulations regarding animal welfare have also changed, making the traditional uses of animals in the teaching of clinical procedures less acceptable from both societal and regulatory perspectives.
Animal welfare is affirmed as the priority of Holsim. Using animals for invasive teaching purposes is unnecessary and unethical. Over 30,000 animals were used in NZ for teaching in 2016 alone.
According to Prof. Andrew Knight:
"Student participation in harmful animal use appears to contribute to a range of desensitization-related phenomena, which adversely affect awareness of animal welfare problems and the desire to take appropriate action to redress them. Such adverse attitudinal impacts have the potential to decrease the ability of veterinarians to safeguard and promote good welfare for their patients and animals generally."
Animal training models, simulators and mannikins allow for repetitive practice, even of procedures that are clinically uncommon or associated with high risk, in environments that are comparatively 'low stakes' and free from stress. They also offer standardisation of the learning experience and assessment processes for students.
Students are often distracted by the plight of their animals, rather than concentrating on the task at hand. Prior practice of surgical procedures in a safe and relaxed environment is likely to lower student stress and increase procedural competence the first time surgery is done.
Approximately 90% of published educational evaluations have shown that students being taught with ethical teaching methods achieved the same or better learning outcomes than using live animals.
For many students, participation in harmful live animal use, generates powerful emotional experiences and high levels of stress. These have considerable potential to adversely affect cognitive processes such as learning.
Any method that has the potential to decrease psychological and emotional risk to these students should be considered. Especially when students are training to go into a high-stress job such as becoming a veterinarian. Sources of stress for veterinary students may be different from those experienced by established veterinarians, but any chance of lowering emotional distress for these students should be a priority.
The physical risk to students themselves could also lessen. Animal-based methods sometimes include the use of highly toxic chemicals (i.e. the chemicals used for preserving specimens are usually toxic).
A survey showed that 95% of students felt that using training mannikins had improved their psychomotor skills. This emphasises that when alternatives are used instead of live animals for training vet students, the same academic outcome can be reached or even exceeded.
Regarding practical AI training, the aspect of animal welfare in modern animal breeding is currently moving more and more into the focus. A study was carried out at the German Institute for Reproduction of Farm Animals IFN in cooperation with the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover to assess stress levels of cattle during artificial insemination. It was found that participants who had carried out preliminary exercises on our Holsim AI Cow model, induced lower cortisol concentrations in the cows than participants who were only theoretically instructed beforehand. Therefore, the research group recommends instructing the participants on an animal model before the practical exercise.
Holsim offers many high-grade models – for the benefit of both, trainees and animals. Our mannikins have sufficient fidelity, durability whilst still being cost effective.
'The Development of a Clinical Skills Laboratory at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine"
- Bernard Grevemeyer & Andrew Knight.
"The Potential of Humane Teaching Methods within Veterinary and Other Biomedical Education"
- Andrew Knight, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Oxford, UK.