State and UNMC leaders announced the state's first addiction medicine fellowship program Monday. The program is being called a big step forward to provide patients and families access to addiction treatment training specialists across the state. Currently there is a critical shortage.
The announcement was made by Gov. Pete Ricketts with leaders from UNMC, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nebraska Attorney General's office.
125 by 2025
According to the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine, there are 67 addiction medicine fellowship training programs in the United States, 52 of which are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The goal is to establish 125 fellowships by 2025.
The addiction medicine fellowship enables physicians to get additional expertise in treating patients with substance use disorders. The 12-month program provides training in treating the most complex patients and includes prevention, clinical evaluation, treatment and long-term monitoring of substance-related disorders.
Initial funding is provided through a Nebraska Division of Behavioral Health grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Sustained funding is being sought.
The first fellow will begin the program Sept. 3 and another will start in July 2020.
"This is an opportunity for UNMC to lead and educate a new generation of physicians that will address the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "We need health care providers who are comfortable and competent with addiction-related care and serve as change agents to transform our health care system."
Gov. Ricketts said the fellowship will address substance use disorders, not only illicit drug addiction, but also the even larger public health issues of nicotine dependence, alcohol use and binge drinking. "By working together to combat drug addiction, together we can build a healthier Nebraska. This collaboration allows Nebraska to train our own specialists, as well as increase visibility for UNMC's excellence in clinical training, scholarship, research and advocacy," the governor said.
The program is supervised by Ken Zoucha, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and director of the addiction division at UNMC.
"This program will save lives from Scottsbluff to Omaha and we are honored to train the future workforce of Nebraska. Every family is touched by addiction," said Dr. Zoucha, who previously oversaw the juvenile chemical dependency unit at the Hastings Regional Center. "Besides our state partners, the program wouldn't be possible without the support of the chancellor and UNMC's family medicine and psychiatry departments."
In addition to the 12-month fellowship, a one-month executive fellowship program provides physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants basic tools for managing addiction. To date, 14 have completed the program.
Awesome! Hopefully NPs will take advantage of the one month training and/or fellowship, especially PMHNPs
Congrats to Dr. Zoucha! This is an important program that will provide important assistance to people around the state.