April 4, 2003

VUSN, Meharry introduce substance abuse training to primary care providers

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Students listen as Beth Hogan role-plays as a patient during an intervention with Susie Adams in a training session at VUSN.

VUSN, Meharry introduce substance abuse training to primary care providers

Vanderbilt School of Nursing is pooling resources with Meharry Medical College, as part of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, to introduce substance abuse intervention education for residents, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals in a primary care setting.

Research shows 20 percent to 25 percent of the population is drinking alcohol at high-risk levels, but don’t meet the criteria for substance abuse dependency. That’s why a national research project, called Project Mainstream, has been organized to address the needs of these high-risk patients by teaching future primary care professionals how to identify the problem and perform an intervention.

Project Mainstream is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT), and is administered by the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA).

The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance was chosen as one of 15 sites nationwide to participate in this project that emphasizes an interdisciplinary team teaching approach.

The intervention education course requires four hours of training, and is taught by Susie Adams, MSN, director of VUSN’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, Dr. Zia Wahid, director of Residency Training in the Department of Psychiatry at Meharry, and Beth Hogan, Ph.D., from the Division of Community Health Sciences at Meharry.

This interdisciplinary teaching team trained 200 nurse practitioner students and 45 nursing faculty members in the School of Nursing this spring, and will train 70 residents at Meharry this summer.

Adams says faculty and students have quickly caught on to the idea of this intervention. “This five- to seven-minute intervention engages patients in recognizing when their drinking patterns are beyond ‘safe levels,’” Adams said.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction has determined that a man who drinks more than 14 drinks a week or more than four drinks on any once occasion, and a woman or person over age 65 who drinks more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks on any one occasion are at risk for significant physical and emotional health problems.

“Our goal is to help health care providers screen and offer early, brief intervention to motivate patients to reduce their alcohol intake to safe amounts,” Adams said.

By this fall, all VUSN advanced health assessment in clinical reasoning courses will have integrated the substance abuse intervention training into their curriculum, and Meharry’s new residents will receive the training as part of their orientation.

Finding a way to permanently incorporate the substance abuse intervention education into current curricula nationwide is a primary goal of Project Mainstream.