Seton Hall U. receives grant to expand training regarding opioid-use disorders

NUTLEY, NJ — An innovative opioid treatment federal grant program will fund critical training through the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the Seton Hall University College of Nursing and the Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences. 

The Expanded Interprofessional Medication-Assisted Treatment Training Program is a three-year grant totaling about $450,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The grant allows the training of future clinicians to prescribe medication-assisted treatment services for individuals with an opioid-use disorder. The new three-year grant follows a former three-year grant, which concluded this summer with a major conference.

“We believe this work is making a difference for the future of treating this major health problem,” said Kathleen Neville, associate dean of graduate studies and research at the Seton Hall College of Nursing, and the grant’s principal investigator. “In our first grant, more than 400 students in our three schools have received training. Now in our new grant, we are engaging in partnership with Monmouth University to train their nurse practitioner and physician assistant students, anticipating that 1,000 students will be Drug Addiction Treatment Act–waivered to prescribe medication-assisted treatment after graduation and be more prepared to address health care disparities and the opioid epidemic.”

“This collaborative project allows us to make an impact at the very foundation of medicine, providing training to future clinicians to raise awareness of and impart solutions to the challenges brought about by the opioid epidemic,” said Stanley R. Terlecky, associate dean of research and graduate studies, and chairperson of medical sciences at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “We look forward to continuing and indeed expanding this good work for another three years.”

The grant covers training for nurse practitioner, physician assistant and medical students regarding medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid-use disorders. Upon completion of the training, all students receive a Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 waiver, which formally permits prescription of the powerful anti-opioid dependency drug buprenorphine. 

According to Brian B. Shulman, dean of the School of Health and Medical Sciences, “The school’s physician assistant students’ participation in this second SAMHSA grant reaffirms not only expanding the role of the physician assistant as an integral member of the interprofessional health care team but also reaffirms our commitment to preparing future health care practitioners and leaders to make a difference in the lives of the individuals in their care.” 

The first three-year grant enabled the development and implementation of an interprofessional DATA-waiver training program embedded in the curriculum in the three schools. This DATA-waiver program consists of 24 hours of didactic training for nurse practitioner and physician assistant students and eight hours for medical students, followed by 10 hours of clinical training at Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead and Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

“The initial grant awarded in 2018 represents a successful interprofessional initiative to address a worsening opioid crisis in America,” said Marie Foley, dean of the College of Nursing. “This second grant addresses vulnerable and underserved populations in urban areas where there are significantly higher mortality rates. Attention to disadvantaged and marginalized populations is very much needed to confront this epidemic.”

The new project will additionally address health disparities and social determinants of health of underserved, vulnerable populations, including those living in urban communities with high mortality rates due to overdose. It is hoped that this outcome will be accomplished through revision of the curriculum and expansion of the training to clinical sites in Newark, including Integrity House, Broadway House, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, and Saint James Health. The new grant also extends the training to Monmouth University’s nursing and physician assistant students, a pilot program involving the dissemination of the curriculum to other institutions.

More than 400 students successfully completed the DATA-waiver training program by the end of the first three-year grant, making them eligible to obtain a license to prescribe medication-assisted treatment. With increased numbers of health professionals who can prescribe this treatment, recovery outcomes for individuals with opioid use disorders will improve.

The first grant was capped by the virtual conference “Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders: State-of-the-Art Science to Advance Clinical Care,” held July 30

“This is a critical need for all clinicians in the 21st century,” said Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “The health care workers of the future need to have the tools to address addiction. Through our innovative and highly interprofessional training at the beginning of the careers of our medical, nursing and physician assistant students, we are well-equipping the students to achieve the goal of substantial reduction among their communities in opioid addiction.”