Americans are now more likely to die of an accidental opioid overdose than in a car accident, says the National Safety Council in a disturbing new report. The council’s announcement came only days after EVMS PA students spent their week learning about opioid addiction and treatment.
Through the inaugural Kenneth LeGree Hallman, MD Memorial Lecture Series: Patient-Centered Approach to Identification and Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder, PA students gained valuable tools to identify patients with opioid use disorder, effectively and compassionately communicate with them and provide the hope of recovery to individuals affected by addiction.
One of the organizers, Angela Conrad, MPA, PA-C (MPA ’05), knows all too well the impact of this disease and the hurdles faced in recovery. “When my own family became affected by addiction,” she says, “I learned firsthand that there weren’t enough resources available.”
Ms. Conrad says providers need to do a better job helping people be at ease talking about addiction. “It is imperative for us to feel comfortable having these discussions and to understand not only how to identify addiction, but also to know the treatment options and community resources that are available.”
Those patient-centered messages were central themes of the lecture series, developed by the Master of Physician Assistant program. Over three days, guest speakers from local treatment facilities, real-life and standardized patients, and recovery experts shared stories to illustrate the human side of medicine. Students also learned how to revive a patient in an overdose using naloxone.
“Hopefully, by teaching students to discuss substance-use disorders factually, openly and comfortably with their patients, we can make a huge step toward better treatment in their future practice,” says Stephanie Peglow, DO, MPH (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Residency ’14), Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Our students continually amaze me with their concern for people, open-minded approach and willingness to confront stigma both in the lecture hall, on their rotations and in community service work.”
Student Deniece Batichon, MPA Class of 2019, says the presentations, especially the advice from those in recovery, made an impact. “This lecture series has given us future practitioners vital tools for an experience we will have with many of our patients,” Ms. Batichon says. “Addiction medicine is, in my opinion, one of the most meaningful forms of true lifesaving.”
The lecture series is dedicated to the late Kenneth LeGree Hallman, MD. “Dr. Hallman was a dedicated preceptor, a lifeline for his patients and in recovery himself,” says organizer Shannon Morris, MPA, PA-C (MPA ’09), Assistant Professor of Health Professions. “He assisted thousands of patients in their recovery, and we hope that our students can fill the immense gap in care that he left behind.”