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Teach Us to Treat:
Opioid Use Disorder Education for All Students

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our support for each of Massachusetts’ medical schools’ efforts to ensure that all students are equipped to prevent and manage substance use disorders. We believe that all students should receive significant clinical education in treatment of opioid use disorder, and fulfill all requirements to become waivered to prescribe buprenorphine.

We welcome the recent progress that each of the schools has made in expanding curricula on opioid prescribing and substance use disorders. We believe that there needs to be increased clinical mentorship in evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder. Ensuring that each student has clinical exposure to managing OUD is the most important step schools can take to prepare students to treat the growing population of patients with opioid use disorder in the Commonwealth and throughout the country.

As the United States Surgeon General spearheads the movement to #TurntheTide on the epidemic of opioid use disorder, Massachusetts’ medical schools can be leaders in innovative strategies to train future physicians. Training students in buprenorphine prescribing is important to the Surgeon General, which he outlined in a recent presentation at Harvard Medical School.

Fulfilling these aims would:
● Provide students with hands on, clinical experience treating patients with substance use disorders
● Ensure that students are exposed to patients who are doing well in recovery, not only patients in the hospital who may have poorly managed substance use. This is important to help students see addiction as a treatable, chronic medical condition
● Prepare students to manage patients with substance use disorders; all physicians, regardless of specialty, will encounter substance use disorders in their practice
● Increase access to medication-assisted treatment for patients in the Commonwealth
● Set an example for medical schools nationwide, showing the commitment of Massachusetts schools to community health, training for all students in substance use treatment, and the integration of substance use care into primary care

The Student Coalition on Addiction is a group of healthcare students from schools all across Massachusetts working to advocate for residents with and at risk for substance use disorders, including those disadvantaged by homelessness, poverty, racism, and other systemic forces. We envision a future in which Massachusetts residents with substance use disorders can live healthy and fulfilled lives.
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