Vet Students Benefit From Innovative Online and Animal Simulation Project


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Progression of Practice: After Stuffed Toys

Animal Simulations Used for Surgical Skill Practice

Veterinary Students Practice Surgical Techniques on Stuffed Toys. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Rikke Langebaek

After the dog and cat simulations, the students practice on cadavers donated by clients whose animals were euthanatized. This step in the process focuses on learning how real tissues feel and respond during surgery, once again without the risk of harm to a live animal.

At the University of Copenhagen, pigs are used for the final phase of actual surgery practice. At this point the veterinary students learn to deal with all the other aspects of live animal surgery. In many US veterinary schools students get their live animal surgical training at spay/neuter clinics designed to aid low income clients and pet rescue groups while providing the students with training under the guidance of experienced veterinary surgeons.

Animal Simulations in Veterinary Teaching Hospitals Reduce Live Animal Use

Veterinary schools around the world are turning to animal simulations of many types to help students bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and actual practice. At Cornell University, students who used Dr. Dan Fletcher’s ‘robo-dog’, a more high–tech application, showed increased confidence and ability to deal with emergencies.  At Colorado State University, students use animal tissue simulators, including some that mimic normal surgical bleeding, to practice making incisions and suturing, also with positive feedback from the students.

Dr. Langebaek’s study is, however, the first to both qualify and quantify the value of online presentations and animal simulations to veterinary students before they are faced with surgery on a live animal. The improved confidence and skill level of students using these methods also serves to reinforce the trend toward reducing live animal use in veterinary teaching hospitals.


Langebæk, R., Eika, B., Jensen, A.L., Berendt, M. Kirurgiøvelser uden brug af forsøgsdyrDansk Veterinærtidsskrift. 94 (3), p. 24-29, (2011). Accessed December 16, 2011.

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