College of Nursing commits to opioid education

May 09, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon is one of 191 colleges and universities engaging in a national effort to fight prescription drug and opioid abuse.

Opioids are highly addictive medications that relieve pain, (morphine, methadone, Buprenorphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc.) and Ruth Anne Skinner, lead acute care nurse practitioner faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, said GCU recognizes that opioid abuse is a pressing public health crisis.

The commitment was featured in a White House fact sheet in April as part of the White House Champions of Change event on Advancing Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, “a call to help ensure future generations of providers are prepared for the critical work ahead.”

“This shows our loyalty to the safety of our patients and of our community,” Skinner said. “Prevention and treatment of chronic pain are real challenges that we have to face.”

Although the college already educates student nurses and clinicians about safety and efficacy when prescribing opioids, it will implement “A Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into its pharmacology course, a requirement for all nurse practitioners starting this month.

The content by the CDC addresses when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; opioid selection, dosage, duration, followup and discontinuation; and assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use.

“Some patients are addicted, and all it takes is a conversation about other sources for help because the opioids don’t take the pain or inflammation away, they just help the patient feel relaxed,” Skinner said.

For others, as the usage becomes more frequent, they might feel the need for an ever stronger dose, she said.

According to the CDC, an estimated 20 percent of patients presenting to physician offices with noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses receive opioid prescriptions, which increased by an estimated 7 percent from 2007 to 2012.

Though rates of opioid prescriptions vary greatly across the U.S., educating nurse practitioners at GCU on how to use opioid pain medication is a big step toward the solution, Skinner said.

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]

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