Skip to Content

The Role of Medical Education in the Opioid Epidemic

Opioid misuse has devastated communities across the country, and a collaborative effort is needed to stem the tide of opioid and substance use disorders (SUDs). 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. With respect to education specifically, these institutions are working with their communities and enhancing content on substance use disorders and pain management, integrating learning opportunities across the medical education continuum.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is actively working to support 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 has developed a series of strategic activities to further enhance collaboration and sharing of educational practices, including three upcoming opportunities intended for educators.

AAMC National Workshop to Advance Medical Education to Combat Opioid Misuse: Working Together Across the Continuum (May 9-10, 2019)

The AAMC hosted a national workshop in May 2019 - in collaboration with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), and supported, in part, by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – to bring together teams of representatives from medical schools and teaching hospitals, as well as individuals from other stakeholder organizations, to advance educational content related to pain and addiction within undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education.

The specific goals of this unique workshop included:

  • Identifying what is working well and areas for improvement in the teaching and assessment of students, residents, fellows and/or faculty in opioid practices as well as assessment and management of pain and substance use disorders.
  • Serving as a catalyst to disseminate knowledge, resources, and organizational action across the medical education continuum.
  • Fostering an inclusive and mutually supportive network of educators across the traditionally siloed continuum of UME, GME, and CME.

2019 Challenge Grantees Announced

Five institutions will be awarded up to $25,000 each, funded in part by the Samueli Foundation, to respond to the training and development needs of academic medical centers. The grantees will develop tools and resources to support educators in their collaborative efforts to increase faculty proficiency in the areas of pain management, opioid use disorder (OUD), substance use disorders (SUD), Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), safe prescribing practices, and addressing stigma. The grantees are:

  • Penn State College of Medicine
  • The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
  • The University of Florida College of Medicine
  • The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Call for Submissions: Opioids Education Resources

To foster collaboration by educators and their partners to advance pain management, addiction medicine, and opioid education, the AAMC is seeking submissions for a resource collection . Examples of appropriate resources may include checklists, worksheets, lesson plans, cases, or lecture outlines. To submit your resource:

Curricular Innovation Awards

In October 2018, the AAMC awarded four Curricular Innovation Awards, also funded, in part, by the Samueli Foundation, recognizing the leadership of medical education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education levels that provide innovative pain, substance use and addiction training, including non-pharmacological approaches to patient
care. The awardees are:

  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of Michigan School of Medicine
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
  • Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University

Representatives from these institutions have been invited to publish their curricular resources and will be celebrated guests at the AAMC National Workshop to Advance Medical Education to Combat Opioid Misuse to be held in May 2019.

The AAMC will open a second call for submissions of curricular innovations in late 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Call for Medical Education Content at Learn Serve Lead 2019: The AAMC Annual Meeting

The call for Medical Education and RIME submissions is now open.

Featured Publications

  • The proceedings of the annual Research in Medical Education (RIME) sessions at the AAMC Learn Serve Lead meeting have been published as a supplement to the November 2017 issue of Academic Medicine. All RIME content is free to access. Review the supplement. 

Related Member Groups