Session to Explore Interdisciplinary Approach to Addiction Training

Even though various professional disciplines ultimately need to work together in addiction care and research, they are rarely trained to work together and communicate their different perspectives. A Sunday Symposium will highlight efforts to improve interdisciplinary training.

Symposium 12, “Interdisciplinary Models in Training the Next Generation of Addiction Professionals,” will show how the Department of Veterans Affairs and other institutions are implementing new training pathways to help develop professionals from all disciplines to lead clinical, educational, and research initiatives in addiction.

“The goal is to ensure that an appropriate interprofessional workforce is developed to meet the present and future needs for those with addiction and other substance abuse conditions,” said Lauren Broyles, PhD, RN.

Dr. Broyles is a Research Health Scientist at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Veterans Administration (VA) Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is one of the speakers at the session, which will be presented from 10:15 am to 12:15 Sunday in Orange Ballroom A, Lower Level. A second speaker is Adam Gordon, MD, MPH, FASAM, Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

They will discuss how they have used an Interprofessional Advanced Fellowship in Addiction Treatment from the VA Office of Academic Affiliations to support the development of change agents in addictions research, quality improvement, and care delivery. Dr. Broyles said.

“The VA, as the largest integrated health care system in the country, has made this a priority for its advanced training programs,” Dr. Broyles said. “We will give background on the need for interdisciplinary training and collaboration in addiction. We also talk about some of the challenges and impediments to doing interdisciplinary training, as well as some concrete and innovative ways to make interdisciplinary training work.”

Each year, the VA Pittsburgh program accepts one physician fellow and one fellow from an associated health discipline, such as nursing, social work, psychology, or public health. The first Fellow in the program has a master’s degree in applied psychological research and is focused on developing patient-centered care for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. A second Fellow will start upon completion of a doctorate in public health, and has interests in tobacco cessation and innovative relapse prevention strategies that can be incorporated into primary care, she said.

“Fellows spend no more than 25 percent of their time in clinical work. We have a formal interdisciplinary collaboration curriculum that the fellows participate in, and the focus of the fellowship is on system change through research, quality improvement, or evidence-based practice translation,” Dr. Broyles said.