We are currently in the midst of one of the most severe drug epidemics in recent history. Alcohol misuse, illicit drug use, misuse of medications, and substance use disorders (SUD) are estimated to cost the United States annually more than $400 billion in lost workplace productivity (in part, due to premature mortality), health care expenses, law enforcement and other criminal justice costs (e.g., drug-related crimes), and losses from motor vehicle crashes.1,2 Until recently, substance misuse problems and SUD were viewed as social problems, best managed at the individual and family levels, and sometimes through the existing social infrastructure-such as schools and places of worship, and, when necessary, through civil and criminal justice interventions.3 In the 1970s, when rates of substance misuse increased, including by college students and Vietnam War veterans, most families and traditional social services were not prepared to handle this problem. Despite a compelling national need for treatment, the existing health care system was neither trained to care for nor especially eager to accept patients with SUD.4
However, the past decade has seen an increasing awareness of the importance of substance use education for medical students, residents, and practicing physicians with greater emphasis on SUD training corresponding to a wider perception of SUDs as chronic medical conditions. This evolution has led in part to an expansion in formal SUD training.5 For example, faculty from the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of Thomas Jefferson University in 2020 initiated an ACGME approved fellowship training program in addiction psychiatry with the expectation that expansion of the addiction psychiatry workforce will increase access to evidence-based prevention services, reduce the prevalence of SUD, and increase access to evidence-based treatment and recovery services.
The DATA 2000 Waiver is another means by which access to OUD and substance-use disorder (SUD) treatment can be improved by allowing clinicians to dispense or prescribe buprenorphine in settings other than an opioid treatment program (OTP). The goal of the proposed project is the training of all students enrolled in Thomas Jefferson University's Sidney Kimmel Medical College in the effective treatment (pharmacologic, biopsychosocial) of opioid use disorder. If funded, by project completion in Fall 2024, we will have developed sustainable standardized training materials and procedures that will have been delivered minimally to three cohorts of graduating physicians. A direct outcome of this newly implemented training sequence is that in excess of 800 graduating physicians will have been educated on the administration/implementation of evidence-based medication assisted treatment (MAT) and have submitted necessary documentation to the DEA to be DATA waivered. In addition to the didactic element, all students will receive hands-on, experiential training via the use of observed simulated encounters. The educational program will also include specialty training in delivering MAT to pregnant and parenting women.