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Assistant professor Naileshni Singh is working on adding opioid education to curriculum at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Courtesy photo

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UCD med school adds opioid education to curriculum

The UC Davis School of Medicine has expanded its curriculum to include more education on opioids, the school announced in a press release last week. Public information officer Edwin Garcia said UC Davis is adding more teaching on addiction and pain management “in an effort to better prepare tomorrow’s doctors for the opioid epidemic and its devastating effect on public health.”

365体育滚球In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency to address the misuse of opioids. Between 1999 and 2017, more than 200,000 people died in the United States by overdosing on prescription opioids, with the number of deaths increasing dramatically in recent years. In 2017, five time as many people died from prescription opioid overdoses than in 1999, according to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The UCD curriculum expansion was incorporated into a summer pharmacology course, which is taken by all medical school students, for the first time last summer. In the course, a case-based approach is used to teach students about pain pathways, oral opioids, nerve related pain, and how to identify opioid use disorder.

“The goal is to engage medical school students in a case they might see,” said Naileshni Singh, a clinical professor of anesthesiology who co-teaches the pharmacology course. “For example, someone who broke arm and may need to be on opioids. Then we will switch gears and talk about a post-surgical patient, who at first is appropriately prescribed opioids, but then develops an abuse problem. Students will learn how to assess the risk of opioid therapy and how to transition to other treatments if the patient is not doing well on opioids.”

The inclusion of opioid education in the UC Davis curriculum is a result of three years of research and observation by Singh and several other professors at the UC Davis School of Medicine and other medical campuses across the UC system.

While the curriculum expansion at UC Davis has started with the pharmacology course, the School of Medicine plans to further expand its opioid education and to weave pain medicine components into other aspects of medical school training, such as in the clinical years.

365体育滚球“Every UC Davis School of Medicine graduate will have the necessary knowledge and clinical skills to reduce the morbidity and mortality of the opioid epidemic in our country,” said Mark Servis, the vice dean for Medical Education at UC Davis Health.

According to Singh, pain plays a central role in lots of outpatient and hospital visits, but education on pain medication lags behind. “The number one reason someone presents to their physician is a pain-related complaint,” Singh said. Partly because of a lack of knowledge, Singh said, doctors have prescribed opioids at a rate that contributed to the epidemic. “We attempt to over-treat pain with opioids which has partly led to the prescription opioid crisis and unintentional deaths,” she said.

According to the CDC, the overall opioid prescribing rate in the U.S. has fallen over the past several years as medical professionals learned more about the dangers of opioid addiction. However, doctors today still prescribe about three times as many opioids as they did 20 years ago. In 2017, there were 58 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 Americans, with 17 percent of Americans having had at least one prescription filled. In 2018, more than 10 million Americans misused prescription opioids, HHS reported.

Singh said she received “zero” training in prescription opioids while she was a medical student at Stanford University in the early 2000s. Until now, she said, the main opioid education offered at the UC Davis School of Medicine had been a lecture on intravenous opioids, which are used for anesthesia. “There is very little education on pain medication in general nationwide,” Singh said. “This is an ongoing process.”

UC Davis’s decision to prioritize opioid education reflects a belief that educating the next generation of doctors about pain and prescription opioids is a key part of addressing the national crisis, the school said. “When you don’t know enough about pain management, you might treat a patient in certain ways because you don’t know what else is out there,” Singh said.

While opioid education is new to UC Davis, professors at the School of Medicine are already working to expand aspects of the new curriculum to other medical campuses across the UC system. “I’m extremely proud of the pioneering work being done to address the opioid crisis, both within UC Davis Health and throughout the state of California,” vice dean Servis said. “UC Davis is a national leader in battling the opioid crisis.”

— Reach Caleb Hampton at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @calebmhampton.

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