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Health, Science and Environment

CMU med school pilots new opioid curriculum

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Medical students at Central Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University are participating in a pilot curriculum learning new strategies for prescribing opioids and avoiding addiction.

CMU’s college of medicine is piloting a new curriculum this spring focused on addressing the opioid crisis.

Dr. Juliette Perzhinsky is an internal medicine physician at CMU.  She said the current one size fits all approach doesn’t work and it’s important to take an individualized approach to patient healthcare.

“There’s different approaches and factors to consider when caring for the patient because their life story may be very different from the next patient”.

She said one the key elements of the trial curriculum is to screen patients for co-occuring medical issues that may exacerbate chronic pain.

“The chronic pain may just be worsened because their depression is not well controlled and so can we optimize that therapy with behavioral health interventions, with medications that are less habit forming and less risky than just giving them a pain pill”.

Dr. Perzhinsky said to her knowledge CMU is the only institution trying to take a multifaceted approach.

“One facet of what we’re doing uniquely is addressing Psychiatric comorbidity. So, if we’re also teaching our learners to recognize if a patient is suffering with depression as an example and they have pain, that patients pain is going to be accentuated”.  

Dr. Perzhinsky said if participating students become more comfortable having risk assessment conversations with patients, the pilot program may expand to all medical students in the future.