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Preparing Future Clinicians to Intervene in Opioid Crisis

Opioid use disorder and overdose have reached unprecedented levels around the world. In the United States, remediation of pain is one of the most common reasons American adults seek healthcare. Therefore, it is vital that clinicians practicing in diverse roles and settings have a clinical understanding of pain and substance use disorders as well as knowledge about public health and opioid policy interventions.

Data show that future healthcare professionals have not been receiving the training needed to competently provide this care. Healthcare professional curricula at undergraduate and graduate levels currently lack the content needed to adequately prepare future clinicians to intervene at the clinical and policy levels with regard to opioid use disorder and pain.

To address this gap, Shoshana Aronowitz, PhD, CRNP; Heath Schmidt, PhD; and Peggy Compton, PhD, RN, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), designed and taught a 14-week transdisciplinary elective course titled “Opioids: From Receptors to Epidemic.” The course curriculum is presented in detail in an article published in the journal Pain Management Nursing.

“We believe that courses such as this one are a vital step in addressing the current opioid and overdose crises, and it is our hope that students leave this course with a basic understanding of pain and opioid use disorders and the complex ways in which both impact therapeutic approaches and society,” the authors say. The course is open to students from nursing and other disciplines, and includes both undergraduate and graduate students.

The article, “Innovative Approaches to Educating Future Clinicians about Opioids, Pain, Addiction and Health Policy” is available online.