Different sections of the society are working in their own ways to check the spread of the opioid epidemic in the United States. The Massachusetts Medical Education Working Group, a collaboration between state medical schools and health officials, has developed state-of-the-art cross-institutional core competencies for the prevention and management of prescription drug misuse.
The study, titled “Developing Core Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Prescription Drug Misuse: A Medical Education Collaboration in Massachusetts,” was published in the Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, in August 2016.
The paper elucidates on the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) Opioid Safe Prescribing and Training Immersion performance assessment for incorporating patient and standardized patient-based examinations, and technology-enhanced simulations.
Chalked out core competencies
One of the achievements of the group is that during a two-month period, it came up with 10 core competencies that all graduating medical students must demonstrate. These competencies would help in the prevention and management of prescription drug misuse.
The UMMS was swift in implementing the strategy for both medical and nursing students and was the first medical school in the commonwealth to fully incorporate the competencies into its curriculum. It focused primarily on preventing prescription drug misuse, treating patients at risk for substance abuse and managing substance use disorders as chronic diseases.
“I think we’re the national model here at UMass, both in the type of education we’re doing for opioid safe prescribing, and in the fact that we’re doing this collaboratively among the four medical schools. We’re responding to a crisis in our community,” said Terence R. Flotte, M.D., the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the UMMS School of Medicine.
“We have a series of high fidelity simulations and we have patient actors who will work through live scenarios where the students have to evaluate and treat their pain, identify patients at risk, manage patients with overdose, manage patients with substance abuse disorders,” Flotte said.
The program was lauded from all quarters. A total of 8,200 students and clinical professionals throughout the state have received training using the standards established by the Medical Education Working Group.
According to Governor Charlie Baker, the core competencies were widely accepted and recently adopted by the state’s advanced practice nursing programs and professional organizations, physician assistant programs, the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, and all affiliated community health centers.
Other states keen on adopting program
The success of the program can be measured from the fact that public health officials and government leadership in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois have reposed trust in the program and are keen on replicating it after Governor Baker presented the core competencies during the National Governors Association’s summer meeting.
“Agreeing upon and expanding these core competency standards is another major step for the prevention and management phases of fighting the opioid epidemic,” said Baker. “As we search for new ways to bend the trend in this public health epidemic, we appreciate the hard work and collaboration that prescriber and academic communities have demonstrated and look forward to continuing this partnership with our nurses, physician assistants and members of the medical community.”
Recovery road map
The only way to deal with any addiction or prescription drug abuse is treatment.