As the opioid crisis continues to grow across New Jersey, the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School has decided to revise its curriculum to prepare medical students to combat the issue.

The NJMS is one of the first medical schools to provide students with opioid crisis training.

Dr. Petros Levounis, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at NJMS, says future physicians need to know how to prevent opioid use disorder by responsible opioid prescribing and to also treat opioid use disorder when they find it in their consultation rooms.

"Future physicians will know how to prescribe opioids responsibly for pain management and also they will know when they see, assess and diagnose opioid use disorder, they will know how to treat it," says Levounis.

Associate Dean of Education Sangeeta Lamba says the psychiatry, education and emergency medicine departments have teamed up to to create 14 core competencies to include in the new curriculum.

She says the school has taught chronic disease management and opioid abuse management, but now the focus is on "the historic prospective; understanding what the public health impact of this is. The fact that 142 Americans are dying every day and only very few actually get treatment."

One new course being offered is the Data 2000 Training, which is for medication assisted treatment. Lamba says it's eight hours of additional training in which 180 students will receive in their final year of medical school. When these newly trained physicians go for licensing, they can apply to be prescribers for medication-assisted treatments.

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