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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Holds Congressional Briefing on the Opioid Epidemic

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The AAMC and the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus hosted a Jan. 28 congressional briefing titled, “How Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals are Addressing the Opioid Epidemic,” that focused on how the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are training the next generation of physicians and advancing clinical care to combat this public health crisis.

    Over 100 congressional staff and other attendees participated in the briefing, which was moderated by AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., and featured University of Massachusetts School of Medicine Dean Terence Flotte, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine (IU) Associate Dean for Medical Student Education Bradley Allen, M.D., Ph.D., and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Associate Professor of Pediatrics Allison Holmes, M.D., MPH.

    The speakers explained how medical schools and teaching hospitals are continuously reviewing and refining their curricula to ensure medical education is preparing future physicians to address the most pressing health care needs of their communities. Specifically, the expert panel discussed how institutions are actively addressing the opioid epidemic by enhancing existing curricular content on pain management and strategies to prevent, assess, and treat substance abuse. They also described how students and residents benefit from training in a clinical environment that is advancing clinical care to combat opioid dependence, and the need to support academic medical centers’ efforts.

    Dean Flotte provided an overview of his experience with the deans of the three other Massachusetts medical schools enhancing their medical school curriculums by implementing ten core competencies on substance use disorders. Furthermore, he highlighted how the competencies will eventually be extended to other health professions education, such as dental, nursing, and pharmacy.

    Dr. Allen, who also emphasized the importance of an interprofessional approach, described IU’s response in the context of a recent HIV outbreak in Indiana, leading to real-time changes in how practicing health professionals and trainees delivered care. He followed with a discussion about IU’s required modules during resident training in medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, emergency medicine, and psychiatry, which includes screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) training, funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In addition, he discussed how Indiana University is addressing the opioid epidemic at the undergraduate medical education-level through strategies including lectures and small group sessions.

    Dr. Holmes concluded the briefing by discussing her innovative approach in developing a newly coordinated and standardized care model for treating opioid-exposed and Neonatal Abstinence-Syndrome-affected newborns. The new model, which learners helped establish, has improved care and resulted in cost-savings. Due to this innovative model, the AAMC awarded Dr. Holmes and her team the AAMC Clinical Care Innovation Challenge Award last summer.