Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System Receive Federal Grant to Expand Addiction Medicine Education and Training

December 16, 2021—(BRONX, NY)—Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System have been awarded a three-year, $447,000 grant to grow their addiction medicine education and training programs for medical students and residents. The grant, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will fund a new curriculum focused on the diagnosis and care for people with opioid use disorder (OUD), including guidance about medications for addiction treatment (MAT), particularly buprenorphine.

“Our Bronx neighborhoods suffer disproportionately high rates of OUD and overdose deaths,” said Tiffany Lu, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at Einstein and director of the Montefiore Buprenorphine Treatment Network. “Many of these deaths are preventable, but access to medications, especially buprenorphine has not kept pace with the need. This grant enables us to leverage our deep academic and clinical expertise to weave a strong thread of addiction medicine training throughout our institutionsfrom medical school through residency. We’ll share our curriculum with other medical schools and health systems in the U.S. and globally, so more physicians will be able to provide life-saving care for people with OUD or other substance use disorders.”

Educating the Next Generation of Doctors

Medical providers who treat people using MAT must obtain a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. “While medical students are not yet licensed to prescribe medications,” said Dr. Lu, “this new foundational training will help them understand how these medicines work and enable them to advocate for addiction treatments when caring for patients during their clinical rotations and future residencies.”

In addition to the MAT training, the new medical school curriculum will offer instruction and case discussions on real scenarios involving people with OUD. The case-based learning approach will cover topics such as reducing stigma while caring for people with OUD, counseling patients about treatment options, and applying harm reduction and overdose prevention strategies. During their clinical clerkship, students will visit Montefiore’s network of five opioid treatment programs to learn about structured medical and psychosocial care for OUD. Students will also be able to take a newly expanded addiction medicine elective that includes hands-on learning on the inpatient addiction medicine consultation service, and weekly clinical case conferences in addiction medicine.

This grant enables us to leverage our deep academic and clinical expertise to weave a strong thread of addiction medicine training throughout our institutions—from medical school through residency.

Tiffany Lu, M.D., M.S.

Training Practicing Physicians Early

As part of the new grant, Montefiore’s internal medicine residents will be required to complete a new two-week rotation which includes working on the inpatient addiction medicine consultation service, outpatient substance use treatment programs, and an addiction care clinic embedded within a community health center. MAT training will also be required for internal medicine residents during the rotation, and for residents in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and in family and social medicine during their training.

“We need better addiction medicine education at all levels,” said Dr. Lu. “Most trainees and even attending physicians are uncomfortable managing addiction because they were never formally taught about it in medical school in the same way as diseases like type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This grant will train hundreds of students and residents to diagnose, treat and care for people with substance use disorder, improving medical care locally and nationally. I am thrilled to be collaborating with Einstein course directors and working with my colleagues in addiction medicine, including Drs. Melissa Stein, Laila Khalid, and Kristine Torres-Lockhart, to implement this curriculum.”

The grant, titled “Developing and Implementing a Longitudinal Addiction Medicine Curriculum at Albert Einstein College of Medicine,” was awarded by SAMHSA, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (H79TI084130).