Pacific School of Physician Assistant Studies Wins $450,000 Federal Grant for Opioid Treatment
As the United States grapples with an epidemic of opioid abuse, a key government health agency has awarded Pacific University a $450,000, three-year grant to bring more physician assistants to the front lines of treatment.
The grant by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is for a project called “Physician Assistant Student Training – Medication-Assisted Treatment,” and it will accelerate the ability of physician assistants to prescribe medications to those suffering from opioid abuse, or Opioid Use Disorder, said Dr. Mary Von, professor and director of Pacific’s School of Physician Assistant Studies.
Up to 180 Pacific physician assistant students will take part in the project during the three-year grant period and, prior to graduation, will interact with a minimum of 4,320 patients during clinical rotations, the school said. By including medication-assisted treatment training in the first and second years of the students’ curriculum, Von said, they will be ready when they graduate to seek authority to prescribe medications to treat opioid abuse.
Von said this is the first time SAMHSA has awarded a grant to the School of Physician Assistant Studies, but the school has been involved in several earlier grants by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration, including a current one in which Pacific was a subawardee with the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. That grant deals with primary care and medication-assisted treatment training, she said.
Pacific’s School of Physician Assistant Studies offers a 27-month program that leads to a master of science in physician assistant studies. Students in the program spend extensive time in clinical settings.