Harvard Dental Gets Grant to Develop Opioid Rx Training



With alarming rates of prescription opioid abuse in mind, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and its collaborators at other Boston health education institutions a 5-year, $494,000 contract from the National Institute of Drug Addiction. The funding will be used to create case-based training modules on pain management and appropriate opioid prescribing.

“The most important thing we can do is teach proper pain management in schools,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shaefer, assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery and principal investigator for the NIH contract. He already has introduced the first training modules to third-year HSDM students and will use their feedback in refining future modules.

“The key is to not only teach the prescriber appropriate use of controlled pain medications but also an understanding of the patient’s disease process and how to properly evaluate the patient’s response to treatment,” Shaefer said.

The award additionally will support interprofessional workshops that will bring dental, medical, nursing, and pharmacy students together for pain management education. The new modules will be available to the public on an NIH website, along with other modules from the NIH’s 11 Centers of Excellence for Pain Education (CoEPEs), located nationwide. HSDM is the lead institution in the NIH’s Boston-based CoEPE.

“Although pain management has been a part of the curriculum at HSDM for years,” said Dr. John Da Silva, associate professor of restorative dentistry and biomaterials and vice dean at HSDM, “this is an opportunity to think critically about how we educate our students and prepare them for the challenges they will face in their own careers and practices and how their actions have an impact.”

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