In January, PAEA announced its partnership with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry on a new grant opportunity intended to strengthen the PA response to the national opioid epidemic. This funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will help us to incorporate medication-assisted treatment training into PA programs’ curricula as well as to hire a project director and administrative support.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications such as buprenorphine in combination with counseling and behavior therapies to provide a holistic approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
In the months since the announcement of this partnership, PAEA leadership and staff have engaged in productive dialogue with program directors and faculty in the states most devastated by the growing epidemic.
“Here in New Hampshire, where we have the second highest death rate in the country from overdoses [as of 2015], each and every tool that can be used to combat [the opioid epidemic] should be explored,” said Franklin Pierce University PA Program Director Priscilla Marsicovetere, JD, PA-C.
Throughout these discussions, a consistent theme became clear: PA education has a duty to help stem the tide of this public health crisis. This begins with ongoing dialogue between PAEA and our member programs to determine how to best approach our goal of increasing the number of students and faculty eligible for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine as medication-assisted treatment.
PAEA President Lisa Mustone Alexander, EdD, MPH, PA-C, noted that “PAEA is committed to doing everything we can to help address the opioid epidemic. We will be working with our member programs to get as many students and educators trained and waiver-eligible as possible.”
Over the coming months, the initiative’s project director will be engaging with member programs to help facilitate increased waiver training using the Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS) curriculum. The 24 hours of waiver training provided through PCSS is free of charge to PA faculty and students and can be easily integrated into either the didactic or clinical portion of PA education. Employers will welcome the fact that new graduates are eligible for MAT waivers as soon as they are licensed.
We invite you to take a few minutes to watch this video and learn more about the role of this important training in stemming the tide of the opioid epidemic.