Haslam's Opioid Battle Plan Targets The Next Generation Of Doctors | Nashville Public Radio

Haslam's Opioid Battle Plan Targets The Next Generation Of Doctors

Jan 24, 2018

Governor Bill Haslam's 10-point plan to attack the opioid epidemic announced this week puts some new focus on Tennessee's medical schools. On Wednesday, he named a 19-member commission to develop a list of related skills for the next generation of doctors.

Even for those who went through medical school in the last decade, there was very little education about the risk of addiction, says Victor Wu. He's the chief medical officer at TennCare.

"I think about my own medical training, which wasn't that long ago, and we received very little education about opioids and the dangers and the risk and how to prescribe responsibly," he said, referencing the potential benefits of Haslam's commission. "I don't remember [learning] how to have difficult conversations about individuals coming in to seek pain medications."

Just this month, TennCare instituted rules limiting new opioid prescriptions to five days, in part because so many TennCare patients have been put on addictive painkillers by doctors.

The panel making recommendations for training programs includes 19 members (listed here) representing medical schools as well as universities with programs for dentists, nurse anesthetists, physician assistants and even veterinarians. They're debating how to teach about alternatives to opioids and how to identify abusers, which includes best practices in using the state's controlled substance database.

Their report is due July 31.

“To be clear, this is not us telling medical and health care practitioner schools what their curriculum will be.," Haslam said in a statement. "This is a group of professionals from that field who will come together and design what competencies should be developed around evidence-based pain and addiction management."