The SVSU Department of Nursing has added a new program to help nurse practitioners treat mental health and substance use disorders in rural communities.
“Core Addictions and Recovery Education for Nurse Practitioners” or “CARE 4 NPs” will be funded through a $450,000 federal grant from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
Kathleen Schachman, SVSU endowed professor of nursing, said the program will prepare healthcare workers to deal with these issues.
“The CARE 4 NPs Program allows us to provide critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment education to our Family Nurse Practitioners, equipping them to provide medication for addiction treatment (MAT) to their patients,” she said. “Additionally, the program helps to provide continuing education and mentorship to practitioners and healthcare providers currently practicing in rural communities.”
Schachman said why rural communities are the focus of the program.
“In many rural communities in Michigan there are currently no providers offering MAT which is considered a gold-standard in helping those with opioid use disorder attain and sustain recovery,” she said. “When this isn’t available in rural communities it becomes a significant barrier to treatment leaving patients to travel to providers in larger cities.”
To combat this issue, the program will seek to incorporate these treatments into what is offered at rural primary care facilities.
“By integrating substance use disorder treatment into primary care practices in rural communities, we
are removing those barriers and leveraging the established trusted relationships our rural friends and neighbors have with their local primary care providers increasing the likelihood that they will initiate treatment,” Schachman said.
Trisha Charbonneau-Ivey, associate director of the SVSU Center for Rural Behavioral Health & Addiction Studies, said the CARE 4 NPs program is just the latest of many efforts.
“Our work at the Center for Rural Behavioral Health & Addiction Studies has invested over $7 million in resources to our rural and under resourced communities,” she said. “This funding has helped to buttress the health professions pipeline by establishing critical educational programming to address the needs in specialty areas such as mental health and substance use disorder treatment.”
One such program is Project ECHO, a free educational opportunity offered to rural practitioners that Charbonneau-Ivey said provides “a supportive learning network to help providers address complex patient cases in a dynamic and interactive virtual session.”
Charbonneau-Ivey said these programs have been well-received by all involved.
“The feedback on these programs from students and providers is overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “They cite that they have greater efficacy in their practice, experience less professional isolation, and results in improved patient care.”
Ultimately, instilling confidence in all healthcare workers involved is the most important thing to Charbon- neau-Ivey.
“Having providers that are well educated and feel confident and ready to provide this treatment is critical, and that is the primary goal of CARE 4 NPs,” she said.