Osteopathic medical schools are uniquely positioned to play a prominent role in efforts to tackle this epidemic, particularly in the country’s rural and underserved communities, where the effects of this crisis are often the greatest.

The nation’s osteopathic medical schools have consistently demonstrated their commitment to addressing this epidemic. Below are a few examples highlighting their efforts:

  • Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lillington, North Carolina, has launched the Opioid Abuse and Drug Abuse Curriculum designed to educate future physicians on both the benefits and dangers of opioids and alternative treatments for pain management. It helps medical students identify when patients are abusing their medications by providing practical guidance on screening pain patients for substance abuse disorder.
  • Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) provides curriculum to more than 500 students per year on opioid prescribing with inclusion of CDC guidelines, beginning within the first block of curriculum. This curriculum is provided to students across all three campuses located in Blacksburg, Virginia; Auburn, Alabama; and Spartanburg, South Carolina. Through Clinical Skills Standardized Patient cases, which evaluate over 20,000 student/patient scenarios yearly across all three campuses, VCOM has noted a heightened awareness among students about the dangers of opioid prescribing. Moreover, VCOM is integrating education about addiction and opioid prescribing for third-year clinical medical students, and fourth-year students may choose an elective in substance abuse. VCOM also plans to develop an addiction medicine fellowship.
  • Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU-COM) through its Pharmacology, Neurophysiology, and Behavioral Science Psychiatry courses during Years 1 and 2, addresses CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, epidemiology, opioid pharmacokinetics, diagnostic criteria for physical dependence versus addiction, genetic and developmental predisposition, associated psychiatric disturbances and medical sequela, and medical treatments for opioid overdose and withdrawal. KCU-COM also uses case scenarios to teach students awareness of drug abuse issues and how to ask about and assess drug use in the primary care setting. KCU-COM led clerkships in an Integrated Behavioral Medicine Clinic are also incorporated to demonstrate practical clinical applications, including implementing CDC guidelines, devising effective treatment plans for intervention, and providing psychiatric support.
  • Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) in Stratford, New Jersey, received one of 16 nationwide grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health to study opioid misuse and overdose prevention among high-risk women in the state. The project is expected to benefit the training of thousands of medical students, physicians, and patients over the project’s three years as RowanSOM will work closely with community learning centers, family medicine offices, and Area Health Education Centers to extend the reach of the project across six counties in southern New Jersey.
  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg, West Virginia, utilizes simulation to teach medical students how to interact with patients who have overdosed or patients who are seeking drugs to fuel their addiction, which has been incorporated into WVSOM’s curriculum for more than five years. Additionally, WVSOM has endorsed the state attorney general’s strategy to reduce the use of opioids and aims to reduce the use of prescription opioids by at least 25 percent.