Michigan State Training Helps Overcome the Stigma of Addiction

While more than 21 million Americans live with substance use disorders, there are only 4,500 physicians nationwide who are certified in substance abuse medicine or addiction psychiatry, according to figures from the Michigan Collaborative Addiction Resources & Education System (MI CARES).

An AMA Medical Student Section training session examined a project at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine that incorporated addiction medicine training into the curriculum and created a path for board certification of new addiction medicine subspecialists.

The AMA believes that science, evidence and compassion must continue to guide patient care and policy change as the country’s opioid epidemic evolves into a more dangerous and complicated epidemic of illicit drug overdose. Learn more on the AMA’s End the Epidemic website.

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“In general, addiction medicine courses are rarely, if ever, taught in undergraduate medical schools,” says Cara Poland, MD, MEd, associate professor of women’s health at the state of Michigan.

dr. Poland noted that while there is no national data on the number of medical school hours spent on addiction medicine, she estimates it to be between two and ten.

“Often they are embedded in perhaps an internship in psychiatry, often taught by a general psychiatrist. There may be bits and pieces depending on where a student is doing their primary care rotation,” she said. “But there are very minimal expected competencies in the NBME [National Board of Medical Examiners] blueprints, which means most schools cannot prioritize this as a subject.”

Meanwhile, the drug overdose epidemic has made addiction medicine education more and more urgent, and medical students know it. Recent medical school graduates have even petitioned the state of Michigan for more education in the field.

“It was pretty clear that we were teaching our students how to get off the plane, meaning take off opioids, and how to land the plane — meaning taper off opioids or stop taking opioids after acute surgery or other acute conditions.” events — but we weren’t talking about what happens in the event of an in-flight emergency,” such as a patient developing an opioid use disorder, Dr. Polen said during the information session, which was taped for the 2022 AMA annual meeting.


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Longitudinal and durable

The Michigan State project is built around modules developed by MI CARES. The modules are included in the classroom electives offered at the end of each academic year, and students can also choose clinically based electives in years three and four.

Available at no cost to medical schools and students, the MI CARES modules help physicians earn addiction medicine so they can serve as core faculty at universities, “because you can’t train medical students if you don’t have the expertise in your institution to teach them.” to train,” said Dr. Polen.

Michigan State initially offered the first-year elective to 32 medical students, but eventually increased the limit to 36. Last year, it offered the course to 48 students and increased the limit again, this time to 52 students.

“We still have a waiting list for this elective of 200 students,” noted Dr. Poland up. “So that means more than a quarter of the students are saying, we want this education.”

Read about the other highlights from the 2022 AMA Annual Meeting.

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