In order to address the urgent and complex opioid crisis, the NAM’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic Health Professional Education and Training Workgroup has released the new Special Publication titled Educating Together, Improving Together: Harmonizing Interprofessional Approaches to Address the Opioid Epidemic. A coordinated response requires identifying and addressing professional practice gaps (PPGs) related to pain management, opioid use disorder (OUD), and other substance use disorder (SUD) care, as well as integrating evidence-based best practices into health professional education and training curricula across the continuum from undergraduate training into post-graduate continuing education.

This Special Publication reviews two major activities that gather information on and assess PPGs pertaining to pain management and SUD care in order to better understand the current environment: the first is a comprehensive literature review, and the second is a survey of the regulatory landscape. The results of these activities underscore the need to collaboratively develop a harmonized interprofessional, person- and family-centered approach for the continuum of health professions education to more effectively address the opioid crisis.

The Workgroup identified five key action-oriented priorities to support the goal identified above. Key themes that arose from this work elucidate the need for an interprofessional health educator response to the opioid crisis, as well as other complex public health crises. The five data-informed priorities identified are:

  1. Establish minimum core competencies in pain management and SUDs for all health care professionals, and support tracking of health care professionals’ competence
  2. Align accreditors’ expectations for interprofessional collaboration in education for pain management and SUDs
  3. Foster interprofessional collaboration among licensing and certifying bodies to optimize regulatory approaches and outcomes
  4. Unleash the capacity for continuing education to meet health professions learners where they are through investment and leadership, and
  5. Collaborate to harmonize practice improvement initiatives

With due effort and support, these approaches will amplify effective practices while harmonizing and improving the environment for health care professionals to best serve the needs of their patients and communities.

For more information, any questions, or requests please contact:

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