Bring Audrey back: Teaching medical students about substance disorders

When is the best time to teach medical students about substance related disorders?  In a new commentary published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, we bring Audrey’s story and call for better addiction medicine education for physicians.


For over 20 years, the first year medical students have had 20 hours of teaching on the theme Addiction Medicine and Inter-collegial Responsibility (AMIR) which has been both highly rated by medical students and has improved their OSCE test scores for motivational interviewing. In the first session of the course, Audrey and other volunteer guest speakers with lived experience tell their stories.

Last Friday, Audrey stood up in front of over 200 medical students to bravely recount a life history the students can identify with – middle class upbringing, working in bars overseas as a fun gap-year. Then she plunges into her journey and takes the students with her through running from boyfriends, heroin initiation, culminating in being chained to a radiator for months while pregnant. Her positive encounters with health-care providers turn things around. She had been in recovery for years when she sought a paediatrician for her son’s care. In the first interview, the paediatrician revealed that she knew Audrey. She had attended the AMIR session nine years prior and upon hearing Audrey’s story had decided that day to become a paediatrician. The two women sobbed together in the office, each one’s journey affecting the other. … Read the full commentary here

1. Crowley R, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017.

Suggested citation: Klimas, J., Rieb, L. Bring Audrey Back. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017.