In Academic Psychiatry, Morreale et al. (2020) highlight that there are many obstacles to education on substance use disorders. Such difficulties include a shortage of faculty certified in addiction psychiatry or medicine, lack of time for new curricular content, and limited incentives to encourage participation in fellowships. Addiction and substance use disorders span across the medical field and are not limited to any singular aspect. As a result, the publication noted that it is essential to think creatively to enhance efforts in education and to ensure that all physicians—irrespective of the degree of formal specialization—receive adequate preparation for caring for patients with substance use disorders.
Another study published by BioMed Central (BMC, 2018) reported that there are insufficient resources for the provision of integrated care for substance use in the primary care setting. The report relates that some clinics have “one substance use counselor for several thousand patients in internal medicine.” Substance use is an issue that Dr. Evans sees her patients struggle with.
Dr. Kimberly Evans is a third-year psychiatry resident at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine, with a specialty in Reproductive Psychiatry. She joined the Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program as a fellow and case study developer and first became interested because it was “an opportunity to learn more about substance use disorders and education.”
Dr. Evans strongly agrees with the aim of ensuring the threading of substance use and addiction throughout courses, as she iterated that there currently aren’t enough resources. She stated, “It’s really hard when I don’t have the source to refer them to. If we can get more funding and more knowledge in the area of substance use and addiction, it would be a great thing.” When it comes to the work being done at ATHP to help provide resources to enhance the competence of medical professionals, especially in the area of substance use disorders and addiction, Dr. Evans hopes that there can be a great impact on changing the worldwide outlook on addiction and mental health throughout the courses offered on our platform. As she spoke to other medical students about this issue, Dr. Evans believes that “starting this education and conversation early would be really helpful in bringing the topic (of addiction and mental health) into residency programs.”
In carrying out her work and collaborating with the Program, Dr. Kimberly Evans shared that she would “love to help with expanding courses and learning more about substance use.” She continued to say she looks forward to learning more about how substance use and addiction relate to her patients, especially since she has not yet received significant training on substance use specific to pregnancy.
The Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program recognizes that substance use disorders pose a great threat to public health. The priority is to prepare healthcare professionals to adequately screen, diagnose and treat patients with substance use disorders while addressing needed systems changes that reduce the incidence of addictive disease.