New grant will help to enhance healthcare workforce training for opioid use disorder care

Virgil McDill | May 7, 2024

A collaborative project between the University of Minnesota Schools of Public Health and Medical School, and HealthPartners received a nearly $900,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), in conjunction with the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, to enhance workforce development and training for healthcare professionals caring for persons with opioid use disorder (OUD).

kumi smith
Kumi Smith

Set to begin in spring of 2024, the project — Advancing Stigma-Free Education and Integrated Behavioral Services for Opioid Use Disorder in Primary Care — will evaluate the outcomes of the current medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) prescription training in the Medical School’s residency programs. With this data, the team will improve and expand training on OUD as a chronic disease, MOUD treatment, harm reduction, and reducing stigma toward persons with substance use disorders (SUD).

Training programs will be offered through online modules and in-person seminars at conferences and organizations. Awarded funds will also be used to continue care coordination services for persons seeking MOUD in primary care, and to purchase and distribute fentanyl/xylazine testing supplies, naloxone kits, and wound care kits to community partners who work directly with persons with SUD.

“Moving addiction care into the primary care setting eliminates a lot of barriers for patients. But a lot more work is needed to support providers in tackling this new — and frequently misunderstood — area of medicine,” said Kumi Smith, assistant professor in the School of Public Health.

“Our work to reduce treatment barriers, integrate addiction medicine services into primary care, and challenge stigmatizing beliefs is critical to mitigate the ongoing opioid overdose crisis,” said Robert Levy, MD, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and principal investigator on the project. “Stepping up stigma reduction efforts in the community, streamlining coordination across different stages of care and broadening treatment access continues to be our mission. We have partnered with DHS since 2017 and would not have been able to advance these goals without their funding.”

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