Preparing Students to Work in Integrated Healthcare

A new Whitepaper by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC), "Preparing Students to Work in Integrated Healthcare," brings to light a problem that a range of education institutions in Massachusetts have recently begun to address. 

"Most physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other health professionals receive sparse formal education or supervised pre-professional clinical work related to substance use disorders (SUDs) (Solberg et al., 2008; Lock, 2009; Gomel, Wutzke, Hardcastle, Lapsley, & Reznik, 1998; Osborne & Benner, 2012; Finnell, 2012). For example, the average medical school requires few hours to be devoted to the study of addiction, and the majority of that training addresses the treatment of intoxication and dependence, not prevention or risky substance use (Bradley et al., 2006). Medical schools rarely include stand-alone courses in addiction medicine (Bradley et al., 2007) and barely incorporate SUDs into other coursework."

In Massachusetts, as a result of the Governor's 2015 Recommendations from the Opioid Working Group, educators from the state's Medical, Dental and Nursing schools worked in teams to come up with core competencies for each discipline related to safe prescribing practices in 2016. In 2017, a similar process to come up with core competencies in substance use and addiction education is being planned for Graduate Schools of Social Work and other human services graduate programs. A number of these schools are already embarking on this work on their own, and their experiences will be instrumental in the statewide process.