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    Medical Education's Active Response to the Opioid Epidemic and Substance Use Disorders

    Opioid misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs) have devastated communities across the country, and a collaborative effort is needed to stem the tide. Through their missions of education, research, and clinical care, the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are actively responding to this public health crisis and preparing the next generation of health care professionals to address the epidemic. 

    Institutions are actively working with their communities and enhancing content on SUDs and pain management, integrating learning opportunities across the medical education continuum. 

    The AAMC supports their work by sharing successful practices, approaches, and responses among educators, clinicians, and future physicians. As part of this effort, and in response to ongoing assessments of the needs of the academic medicine community, the AAMC developed a series of strategic activities to further enhance collaboration and sharing of educational practices, including three opportunities intended for educators. 

    Additional information about the AAMC’s strategic efforts, including the results of a national convening, can be found in the following report: “Responding to the Opioid Epidemic Across the Continuum of Medical Education: Results of a National Action Initiative.”

    AAMC Grants/Awards 

    UC Davis Research Team Commissioned for Competitive Systematic Review Through AAMC/NIDA Partnership 

    As part of the AAMC’s ongoing efforts to support its members in advancing educational practices in pain management and SUDs, the association partnered with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to commission a systematic literature review of health care professionals’ bias and stigma related to SUDs and the evidence for mitigation efforts. 

    The results of this systematic review have been published in Academic Medicine: “Stigma Against Patients with Substance Use Disorders Among Health Care Professionals and Trainees and Stigma-Reducing Interventions: A Systematic Review".

    A recording of the January 2024 "Looking Inward: Addressing the Stigma of Addiction" webinar is now available. Sign in to watch the video. 

    AAMC Collaborations 

    The AAMC collaborates with several organizations to promote and develop curricula and programming. A sample of these collaborations include:

    Curricular Examples 

    Curricular Innovations and Program Development 

    Over the last five years, several schools and programs have been recognized both for existing exemplary curricula and for the development of new tools and resources towards the advancement of education in addiction and pain management.   

    Call for Submissions: Opioids, Addiction, and Pain Education Collection

    To foster collaboration between educators and their partners to advance pain management, addiction medicine, and opioid education, MedEdPORTAL is seeking submissions for its Opioids, Addiction, and Pain Education Collection. Examples of appropriate resources include checklists, worksheets, lesson plans, cases, and lecture outlines.

    Submit a resource  

    Call for Submissions: Integrated Behavioral Health Education 

    To equip educators and institutions with curricular innovations to increase collaboration with interprofessional behavioral health teams in undergraduate and graduate medical education, MedEdPORTAL is seeking submissions for its Integrated Behavioral Health Education Collection. This peer-reviewed collection emphasizes equitable care for all patients and communities by providing health professions educators with the tools they need to train the next generation to address stigma related to substance use and mental health conditions.

    Submit a resource

    If you have any questions, contact CurricularInnovation@aamc.org.

    Regulatory and Policy Updates 

    Important changes to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license requirements affecting all medical educators 

    Effective June 27, 2023, all DEA practitioners (except veterinarians) are now required to check a box on their DEA registration application or renewal form indicating that they have satisfied this training requirement. Some practitioners have already satisfied this requirement. Relevant content offered during medical school counts towards this eight-hour requirement. Practitioners who graduated in good standing from a medical (MD or DO granting), dental, physician assistant, or advanced practice nursing school in the United States within five years of June 27, 2023, and successfully completed a comprehensive curriculum that included at least eight hours of training can attest to having met this training requirement without additional action.  

    This comprehensive curriculum must include the following:

    • Treating and managing patients with opioid or other SUDs, including the appropriate clinical use of all drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of a SUD; or
    • Safe pharmacological management of dental pain and screening, brief intervention, and referral for appropriate treatment of patients with or at risk of developing opioid and other SUDs.

    Graduates who are unsure if they have met the requirement should reach out to their programs and inquire about the curriculum while they were enrolled. The majority of medical schools include this content in their curriculum.

    Medical educators at all U.S. medical schools should:

    • Consider reviewing their curricula for the relevant content (listed above) beginning five years ago (June 27, 2018). This does not need to be standalone content and may be integrated throughout the full educational program and experienced in a variety of ways, including simulations, small group discussions, problem-based learning sessions, lectures, clinical rotations, and more. 
    • As appropriate, prepare a brief statement to share with graduates (June 27, 2018-2023) indicating that the educational program includes a minimum of eight hours of instruction in these relevant areas for treating and managing patients with opioid or other SUDs, including use of FDA approved treatments.

    Graduates who fall outside the five-year window or who graduated from a medical school without the required curricular focus can find accredited continuing medical education activities to complete to meet the DEA requirement. You can sort for relevant activities provided at no charge, offered locally, or provided online.

    For more information, see the DEA letter written on March 27, 2023.