New curriculum equips NPs, PAs to better manage opioids

Since nurse practitioners and physician assistants often see a patient before they see a physician, one surgeon is proposing a specific curriculum to train these clinicians to enhance their knowledge of opioid care.

Asif Ilyas, MD, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and member of the Rothman Opioid Foundation in Philadelphia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Bryn Mawr Hospital, helped develop the curriculum which, according to a March 13 news release, is free online and is not "exclusive to any single foundation or entity." 

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are "significant," Dr. Ilyas wrote, "but their training in opioid management falls short when compared to their physician counterparts. They need enhanced training to manage pain responsibly and safely without an overreliance on opioids." 

The curriculum is also designed with the busy schedules NPs and PAs often have in mind to make the learning accessible. 

The idea is to help these clinicians, who often work in rural regions of the U.S. which have fewer practicing physicians, understand proper opioid-sparing treatment management strategies for acute, chronic, and cancer pain, to help "play a crucial role in preventing the start of an addiction," according to the release.

"Proper education for PAs and NPs is vital," Dr. Ilyas wrote. "These professionals can profoundly impact the opioid crisis, especially in the Appalachian region, where they are key figures in delivering healthcare, often in rural settings where resources are scarce."

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