Public Health

Murray Selected to Lead PAEA Opioid Response Project

By Dave Keahey, MSPH, PA-CNovember 10, 2020

Credit: Shutterstock

This effort will help secure clinical training experiences and promote PAs to behavioral/mental health providers.

PAEA is pleased to announce that Donna Murray, DMSc, MS, PA-C, has been hired to head up the Opioid Response Network (ORN) Clinical Sites project for the next two years. She comes to this position with 24 years of practice experience and more than six years in PA education, most recently having served as the director of clinical education for the Lenoir-Rhyne University PA Program.

Project Goals

Donna Murray
Donna Murray, DMSc, MS, PA-C

The purpose of the PAEA ORN effort is to facilitate clinical training experiences for PA students, including exposure to patients with substance use disorders in clinical settings that provide MAT services. An additional goal is to address a lack of familiarity with PAs among mental and behavioral health providers.

Funding for this project comes from a $350,000 subaward of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Opioid Response Technical Assistance Grant to the American Association of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP). The aim of the parent grant is to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and reducing opioid overdose-related deaths through the provision of prevention and recovery services.

“There are 2.5 million Americans suffering from opioid addiction, and they are all at risk for overdose death,” said Murray. “It is incumbent upon us as clinicians and PA educators to train our students to become skilled in identifying those who are afflicted and to alleviate their suffering. MAT training is one tool that can be used to save lives and improve the quality of life for patients impacted by opioid use disorder.”

Over the next two years, Dr. Murray will establish connections and develop relationships with substance use disorder (SUD) treatment provider organizations such as the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Osteopathic Academy of Addition Medicine, the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association. She will meet with the organizations’ leadership to educate them about the training of PA students and the suitability of graduates as a workforce pipeline for mental and behavioral health practices treating patients with SUD.

She will also connect systems that employ MAT-waivered PAs, NPs, and physicians with clinical leaders in PA programs across the nation to facilitate increased mental health, behavioral health, and addiction practices and clinics. There will be a particular focus on PAEA’s 20 PRAC-ED-PA SUD grant partner programs based upon their unique preparation resulting from the completion of both the PRAC-ED-PA curriculum and X-waiver training.

Relevant Experience

Dr. Murray is a graduate of Howard University, the Yale University PA Program, and the University of Lynchburg. Her practice experience includes primary and urgent care, and level I trauma care with a focus on high health disparity communities. While on the faculty at Lenoir-Rhyne, she was a member of the College of Health Sciences Strategic Planning Committee, faculty advisor for the Grand Rounds IPE program, and facilitator for diversity and inclusion activities for the PA program. Her program work included founding a community health outreach program and free medical clinic that was supported through grants that she wrote.

Dr. Murray is MAT waiver-certified and has been a MAT program champion and co-teacher for MAT 101 and the MAT Waiver Training course for PA students since the fall of 2019. She completed a MAT Train the Trainer course in the summer of 2020. Currently, she is a visiting faculty member with the Gardner-Webb University PA Program, course director for Cultural Issues in Healthcare at Pfeiffer University’s PA Program, and a health equity consultant for True Health in Sanford, Florida.

Dave Keahey, MSPH, PA-C

Dave spent 30 years precepting students and serving on the faculty of the University of Utah PA Program. After finishing up a year-long stint in Washington, DC, as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow, he joined the PAEA staff as chief policy & research officer.