Research

AAPA Survey Underscores Importance of MAT Training

By John Lopes, DHSc, PA-CApril 29, 2020

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Now is the perfect time for students to take MAT training.

On April 14, 2020, the American Academy of PAs released “PAs and Buprenorphine Waivers: Trends and Implications for PAs,” a new report on practicing PAs who care for populations of patients suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD).

This report underscores the critical role that PA students will play in becoming a major force in combating the OUD epidemic and provides a timely reminder of the opportunity for students (and faculty) to take online MAT training during this time when normal program operations have been disrupted by the pandemic. PAEA is now nearly two years into our MAT Waiver Training Initiative through a partnership with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. More than 65 percent of PA programs now offer the waiver training before graduation.

Significant findings of the AAPA report include:

  • Two-thirds of respondents reported seeing patients with opioid use disorder (OUD)
  • Eight percent of the respondents reported holding a Drug Enforcement Administration MAT waiver to prescribe MAT
  • Two-thirds of respondents with an MAT waiver reported prescribing MAT in the previous six months
  • Sixty percent of waiver holders are currently accepting patients for MAT
  • Less than 20 percent of the respondents who did not hold a waiver were interested in obtaining a waiver
  • Lack of training and lack of confidence in managing OUD were among the primary barriers to obtaining a waiver

The lack of training barrier can be addressed by engaging your students during the COVID-19 pandemic in high value online training in OUD/SUD treatment. PAEA’s MAT FAQ page includes helpful information about the steps your program can take to ensure that your students are prepared. PAEA will continue to advocate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for expanded clinical training sites where students can employ their MAT waiver skills with the direction of experienced preceptors.

Although pushed from the front pages by the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid use continues to be the major cause of accidental death in the United States. While the latest CDC data show that the number of deaths related to overdose declined between 2017 and 2018, almost 47,000 U.S. residents died during that period. This difference was primarily due to a reduction in deaths due to prescription opioid overdose. Deaths due to synthetic opioids (except methadone) increased during the same time. This overall reduction represents progress made under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ five-point opioid strategy: better treatment, better data, better research, increased access to naloxone, and better pain management. PAs contribute to the implementation of this strategy through adherence to opioid prescribing guidelines, offering naloxone to patients at risk of overdose, and increasingly, prescribing medication to treat opioid use disorder.

John Lopes, DHSc, PA-C

John is the director of PAEA's MAT Waiver Training Initiative project.