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Coalition Expands Core Competencies to Combat Opioid Epidemic

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration, in partnership with the state’s advanced-practice nursing (APRN) programs and professional organizations, physician-assistant programs, the Mass. Assoc. of Physician Assistants, the Mass. League of Community Health Centers, and all affiliated community health centers, have agreed to expand the reach and use of the pioneering core competencies established previously for the prevention and management of prescription-drug misuse.

This set of cross-institutional core competencies will ensure advanced-practice nurses and physician assistants educated in the Commonwealth, as well as employees of community health centers, receive enhanced training in primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies regarding prescription-drug misuse.

“Agreeing upon and expanding these core competency standards is another major step for the prevention and management phases of fighting the opioid epidemic,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “As we search for new ways to bend the trend in this public-health epidemic, we appreciate the hard work and collaboration that prescriber and academic communities have demonstrated and look forward to continuing this partnership with our nurses, physician assistants, and members of the medical community.”

This first-in-the-nation partnership has been expanded with the establishment of cross-institutional core competencies for the prevention and management of prescription-drug misuse that will reach the approximately 2,000 enrolled APRN students, 900 enrolled physician-assistant students, and 50 community health centers representing the organizational membership of the Mass. League of Community Health Centers.

“Educating our clinicians on prescribing practices for opioids is critical to mitigating the opioid epidemic in the future,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “We are pleased to stand with our healthcare partners to further advance the training and education of our current and future healthcare practitioners.”

The agreement follows similar partnerships with the Commonwealth’s three dental schools, the Mass. Dental Society, the Commonwealth’s four medical schools, and the Mass. Medical Society on sets of groundbreaking medical and dental education core competencies for the prevention and management of prescription-drug misuse. Practitioner training about addiction and safe prescribing practices was a key strategy recommendation of the opioid working group.

“Substance misuse is a chronic disease, and we must treat it as one, starting with education of our clinicians,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “We must approach the treatment of this disease taking into account the multiple needs of the individual, not just substance misuse.”

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