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On Thursday, Jan. 9, representatives from 20 organizations that provide services related to substance use disorders gathered in Lester Hall for a community networking event. 

Attendees had the opportunity to discuss challenges and ways to better serve patients, families and the community.

The event, hosted by the EVMS Master of Physician Assistant program in partnership with the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at EVMS, was the culmination of a week-long program on substance use disorders.

One of the many goals of of the week was to help students understand medicine as a team sport. “Nowhere is that more true than in the realm of substance use disorders, and it is our obligation as PA educators to set our students up for success in clinical practice,” says Shannon Morris, MPA, PA-C, Assistant Professor and Clinical Educator in the School of Health Professions, and one of the event’s organizers. “Our medical knowledge can only get us so far when working with this complex patient population, and it is so important for us to be able to connect our patients and families with the appropriate community resources.”

Bonnie Blackburn, MPA Class of 2020, says the event will most definitely help her future patients. “While working as a nurse in Suffolk, I encountered many people who struggled with substance abuse, but there weren’t many residential recovery resources available to them. At this networking event, I was able to make a contact who told me about a new location that will take them.”

Christin Hoffstadt, MPA Class of 2020, also hopes to put her new contacts to good use. “We learned this week that treating substance use disorders is multi-faceted, and we can't be the ones to do it all. Knowing multiple options where you can send patients makes treating these disorders successfully feel that much more possible.”

Ms. Morris couldn’t be happier with the feedback she heard from students. “We hope the connections made at this event will lead to greater utilization of available resources,” she says, “and more patients entering and succeeding in recovery in Hampton Roads.”