Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine have recently declared states of emergency in response to the area’s rising homelessness. The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent universities, and it is time for us to expand our role in responding to this crisis.
As a Doctor of Nursing Practice student in Community Health Nursing, and the School of Nursing Student Council president, I urge the UW to invite the residents of Tent City 3 (TC3) to join us on our campus for three months.
Hosting TC3 is in line with the University’s strategic priorities, which include research leadership, celebration of place, academic community, innovation, development of world citizens and public responsibility. It also exemplifies our values of integrity, diversity, excellence, collaboration, innovation and respect. Our priorities and values will be brought to life through sharing our campus with the residents of TC3. This is a critical opportunity to serve our Seattle community and enrich our learning, research, and teaching.
In the School of Nursing, we also deeply value social responsibility and equity. Homelessness is profoundly inequitable. Our Social Justice and Determinants of Health course visited TC3; it was a tremendously eye-opening experience. Our visit brought our coursework to life, and gave me new insight into my own privilege as someone with a stable, safe, and permanent home. It made clear the inextricable links between health and homelessness — health problems can cause homelessness, homelessness complicates medical treatment, and the experience of homelessness creates new health problems.
During the visit, the residents’ pride, community cohesion, and commitment to both safety and neighborhood improvement was apparent. As a self-governed and tightly-knit community of about 100 residents, they maintain a strictly alcohol-, drug- and violence-free community. TC3 was established 16 years ago and has moved dozens of times after each three-month stay. Before each move, residents take time to address the concerns of their future neighbors. After becoming part of a community, they provide security and collect trash throughout the neighborhood. They consciously strive to be good neighbors wherever they are. By leaving the neighborhood in better condition than they found it, they succeed.
While Tent Cities are not a solution to homelessness, they are much-needed interim response providing shelter and safety. With a record-breaking 4,505 people without shelter in King County just three months ago, an overall solution to end this crisis will take time and resources. The UW can, and should, do its part to contribute to the solution by first hosting TC3, and then by continuing the work to develop innovative solutions to the homelessness crisis. An important first step has already been taken; UW president Ana Mari Cauce’s working group has confirmed the viability of hosting TC3 at the UW. Now we must take the next step.
Inviting TC3 to spend three months on our campus, collaborating with our innovative student body, faculty, and staff, would provide an opportunity to fulfill the UW’s vision to “discover timely solutions to the world’s most complex problems and enrich the lives of people throughout our community, the state of Washington, the nation and the world.”
Hosting TC3 will provide an incredible opportunity to all UW students, staff, and faculty, to fully integrate classroom and real-world learning to prompt innovation and collaboration for responses to the complex challenges of homelessness in our community.
It has been 11 years since the effort to host the residents of TC3 on our campus began. During the intervening years, Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University have hosted TC3. Both experienced substantial benefits for their campus communities. Now is the time for the UW to extend the long-overdue invitation to the residents of TC3 to spend time on our campus and give our community the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and be boundless together.
Doctor of Nursing Practice, Final Year
As a student at the University of Washington, I am saddened by my school’s outdated, cruel, and avoidable use of live animals for paramedic training. The UW uses and kills 36 pigs each year to teach a single procedure (surgical airway) to paramedic students, practicing paramedics, and flight nurses. This procedure entails cutting into the throat of a live pig before inserting a breathing tube. The procedure is performed up to six times on each animal.
This issue has attracted the attention of medical professionals, who recently presented to the UW Board of Regents. In their presentations, the physicians and paramedics explained that it is surprising that the university uses animals in this way considering UW Medicine’s two state-of-the-art training centers specializing in human-based devices. These devices are often called simulators because they simulate human anatomy and physiology. Thus, switching from animal- to simulator-based training would incur no additional cost.
The UW’s 10-month-long paramedic program involves 2,500 hours of training. Yet the performance of surgical airway by each trainee takes only 30 seconds, according to the UW. Considering this, it’s hard to argue that the pig lab is instrumental to producing great paramedics — yet UW faculty seemed to do just that in a February 2016 presentation to the Board of Regents.
If the UW is using animals for this purpose, one would assume other paramedic programs are doing the same. But there is no evidence of that. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the UW is the only paramedic training program (out of 16) in the Pacific Northwest that uses live animals.
I personally approached several highly rated paramedic and emergency medical technician programs around the country. Not one of the programs I heard from said that they use animals. In fact, Dwight Polk, director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County program, wrote: “As the Paramedic Program Director here at UMBC, we have not participated in ANY live animal training sessions in my 26 year tenure with the university. … Under my guidance as Director, the UMBC Paramedic Program does not support live animal training and have rejected such offers to do so in the past.”
UW’s paramedic program has been using animals to teach surgical airway for almost 40 years. But the current availability and lifelike qualities of human-based simulators means that not only can we save pigs’ lives, but we can provide paramedics with better training. It’s time for the UW to move its paramedic training into the 21st century.
Sophomore; CHID, Japanese linguistics