|School of Medicine, national allies educate future physicians about substance abuse|
The rigors of medical training sharpen a doctor's ability to diagnose and treat a wide variety of human afflictions. However, drug abuse and addiction are often insufficiently covered in medical school curricula, despite the fact that drug use affects a wide range of health conditions and drug abuse and addiction are themselves major public health issues.
To improve drug abuse and addiction training of future physicians, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, today unveiled a series of new teaching tools, through its Centers of Excellence for Physician Information Program (NIDA CoEs), at the Association of American Medical Colleges 2009 Annual Meeting's "Innovations in Medical Education" Exhibit in Boston.
The NIDA CoE program was created through a partnership with the American Medical Association's medical education research collaborative, Innovative Strategies for Transforming the Education of Physicians and includes The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, the Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, Creighton University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Drexel University College of Medicine.
"Physicians can be the first line of defense against substance abuse and addiction, but they need the resources and the training," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Our long-term goal is for doctors to incorporate screening for drug use into routine practice like they currently screen for other diseases; to help patients that are abusing to stop; and to refer more serious cases to specialized treatment." For example, several CoE resources address prescription drug abuse among chronic pain patients, which presents special issues for physicians, who must balance adequate treatment with the risks of addiction.
"Our goal is to improve the quality of pain treatment and the safety of prescribing opioids by increasing the knowledge and skills of medical providers early in the educational process," emphasized Dr. Jeffrey Baxter of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, developer of one of the CoE resources. By pairing substance abuse expertise with innovations in medical education, these curriculum adjuncts can enhance substance abuse medical education, help to remove the stigma associated with substance abuse, and ultimately improve patient care.
The NIDA CoE program is part of NIDAMED — NIDA's ongoing commitment to the medical community to provide scientifically accurate and useful resources for addressing substance abuse in their patients. NIDAMED offers a variety of tools, including an online interactive screening tool to help doctors accurately assess their patient's substance use.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
-- Denis F. MacLeod, Communications Coordinator, Center for Rural Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3300