Training Healthcare Professionals in Addiction Treatment
Despite the prevalence of addiction in the US, very few physicians are specifically trained to diagnose and treat substance abuse. However, change is underway as a number of physician groups and private organizations are working to better educate future doctors.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine and other professional societies associated with addiction medicine have agreed on 10 core topics to be part of an introductory course for second-year medical students. The Coalition On Physician Education in Substance Use Disorders (www.cope-assn.org), has been meeting with leaders from some of the nation’s medical schools to advocate for substance abuse education.
Dr. A. Thomas McLellan’s non-profit research organization, The Treatment Research Institute, is working with the Betty Ford Clinic and others to develop a standardized, elective course on the treatment of substance use disorders that will be available online nationwide to medical schools by summer of 2014 (see www.tresearch.org for more information).
In addition, the American Board of Addiction Medicine offers guidelines on standardized requirements for addiction medicine fellowship programs to meet the stringent standards for this board certification. Currently, 19 fellowship programs in North America have been accredited by ABAM (you can see the list at www.abamfoundation.org).
For more information on gaps in training and education on substance abuse, see Wood E et al, JAMA 2013;310(16): 1673–1674.