Late last month, Representative David Trone (D-MD) toured the Frostburg State University PA program as part of his Scientific Research and Technology Jobs tour during Congress’ August recess. During the visit, Program Director and AAPA President Elect Beth Smolko, DHSc, PA-C, spoke with the Congressman about some of the challenges facing her program, including access to high-quality behavioral health clinical rotations and the work the program is undertaking to prepare students to provide care to those suffering from opioid use disorder.
Founder of the Freshman Working Group on Addiction, Trone has made combating the opioid epidemic a top priority following the death of his nephew from an opioid overdose in late 2016. Throughout 2019, the Freshman Working Group has held a series of briefings and tours with key stakeholders in medical research, patient advocacy, and health professions education to determine additional steps Congress can take to bolster the national behavioral health workforce and improve access to treatment.
A key highlight of the visit was informing Trone about the efforts of PA programs and students to ensure a sufficient supply of providers who have completed the training necessary to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder in office-based settings. Since the beginning of PAEA’s MAT Waiver Training Initiative in 2018, the percentage of PA programs requiring students to complete waiver training prior to graduation has risen from 3% to 29% — with nearly 60% projected to do so by 2020.
In addition to speaking with program and university leadership, Trone also had an opportunity to talk with students about his work in Congress and participate in demonstrations of the innovative technology used by the program.
PAEA’s Government Relations Team would like to thank Beth Smolko and the administration of Frostburg State University for their efforts to make this visit a success. Any members interested in coordinating program tours with members of Congress are highly encouraged to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.