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CMU medical and PA students to get training for opioid addiction treatment

CMU medical and PA students to get training for opioid addiction treatment

ISABELLA COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Increasing treatment for those suffering from opioid addiction is the goal of new curriculum at Central Michigan University.

A three year, $433,500 grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will give medical students the training for an effective treatment to opioid addiction.

Right now, only 2.2 percent of physicians in the U.S. have the waiver to practice what’s called medication assisted treatment.

This program will make sure the next generation of health professionals is prepared to make an impact on this deadly epidemic.

“If we’re not able to provide access to effective treatments to patients who are suffering from opioid use disorders, we’re only going to see an increase in mortality,” said Juliette Perzhinsky, CMU Associate Professor of Medicine.

Providing that treatment is the goal of the grant for students and faculty of Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine.

“That would provide them the educational tools and skills to actually use MAT or medication assisted treatment in the treatment of opioid use disorders,” said Perzhinsky.

MAT uses anti-withdrawal medication such as suboxone or methadone to help treat patients.

“With achieving that ceiling effect where patients don’t actually get that euphoria, they are able to function normal lives,” said Perzhinsky.

Very few physicians currently have the waiver to prescribe medications for MAT, and those that do are centered in urban areas.

“So in central and northern Michigan where there are more rural communities there are very few options for patients,” said Tina Thompson, CMU College of Medicine Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

By giving about 140 medical and physician’s assistant students this training each year at CMU, they’ll be better equipped to tackle this epidemic moving forward.

“Anything we can do to increase the awareness of our students and our PA students will be beneficial in the long term," said Thompson.

While they say MAT has proven to be effective, it also has a stigma, since the patients are not completely abstinent.

But the professors say it’s time we start treating opioid addiction like the disease it is.

“It’s so critical that we not shame people and that’s what I see,” said Perzhinsky. “When you’re not able to get them into the care that they need or the wait times are too long it’s really a driving force for us to say what can we do differently.”

To get the waiver for MAT, medical students will get eight hours of training, four of which will be in the classroom.

PA students will go through 24 hours of training.

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