Substance use and addiction will always be significant issues for doctors, nurses, and social workers. If the problem were an acute drug use trend that will likely recede over time (e.g., the current opioid epidemic), it might make sense to focus all of our efforts on training current professionals. But substance use is a fundamental part of health and social functioning–and ignoring this issue will always reduce the effectiveness of health and human services. Therefore, we need to institutionalize training on this topic by integrating it into the education of nursing students, medical students, and social work students…before they begin their professional careers.
To this end, IRETA creates and delivers curricula for undergraduate nursing students, social work students, and medical students. Other members of the ATTC Network (of which we are a part) also create materials to educate students before they hit the workforce.
Better pre-service education is an essential element of an effective public health response to substance use and addiction. The infographic below makes the case for better education, and provides examples of how it can be done. It’s based on the new ATTC White Paper: Preparing Students to Work in Integrated Settings.