News: Featured Stories

September 22, 2017

‘Matter of Fact: State of Addiction’ primetime special: UMass Medical Schools leads the way in opioid education


  • Medical School

UMass Medical School is leading the charge to improve the way medical schools train students and providers fight opioid abuse, according to a WCVB-TV report that aired on Sept. 13 during a live, hour-long “Matter of Fact: State of Addiction” special.

The broadcast, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, included national live interviews and segments addressing the addiction crisis. In a primary segment that aired on WCVB-TV, reporter Karen Anderson explained how UMMS answered the call by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2015 to develop core requirements for safer opioid prescription training in response to America’s opioid crisis.

“One of the things with prevention is we are teaching our students to talk more in more depth with their patients . . . about opiates,” said Melissa Fischer, MD, MEd, professor of medicine, associate dean for undergraduate education, curriculum innovation and the Interpersonal Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation.

UMMS revised its curriculum to include the teaching of 10 core competencies for the prevention and management of prescription drug misuse so students would develop strong skills and a foundation of knowledge in the real world. The Opioid Safe-prescribing Training Immersion performance assessment builds upon classroom encounters with standardized patients. They are actors who portray a full range of interactions with diverse patients that are commonly experienced in the day-to-day practice of medicine.

Jill Terrien, PhD, ANP-BC, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Nursing, explained to Anderson that knowing the best practices for prescribing is crucial, as well as preventing any misuse of opioids, identifying that there could be a problem with patients and knowing the resources to get them help and treatment. “We need to be the solution as well,” said Dr. Terrien.

Since January 2016, nearly 800 UMass Medical School medical and graduate nursing students, residents, and fellows have completed the new training.