Clinician-Scientist Training in Addiction Medicine
In a new article from the Academic Medicine, we argue that clinician-scientist training is one of the most important bridges to cross the growing divide between recent advances in addiction science and care.
Often, unskilled lay personnel deliver inadequate care, reports state.
Medical education has long been the missing piece in the response to the global addiction problem. Instead of treating addiction as a disease, governments have focused on drug prohibition and control. This approach has failed by many measures, and, as a result, millions of people have suffered. Addiction science has identified a range of more and more evidence-based approaches to treat substance-use disorders. Especially through early identification and treatment. However, most interventions are not used to their full potential. Better physician education can improve the accurate use of evidence-based treatments.
To this end, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and St. Paul’s hospital, have recently opened a large Addiction Medicine Fellowship. The fellowship is 12 months long and trains doctors from general practice, internal medicine and psychiatry. The Addiction Medicine Foundation (AMF) accredited the fellowship and the alumni can write AMF exams. Also, they get research training through intensive mentorship and quality opportunities to write and publish research manuscripts, through academic half-days, journal clubs and conferences. They also get media training, learn to influence public policy, advocate for patients, and lead academic research projects.
Why clinician-scientist matters
Most health systems don’t specifically train generalist doctors in addiction medicine; when they do, this is often for a handful of psychiatry programmes that train a definite number of addiction psychiatrists. Our fellowship trains family physicians, internists and other disciplines. This expands the specialist treatment workforce to professionals seeing many people with substance use disorders and well positioned to bridge the implementation gap. Access to effective treatments grows.
Source: Klimas, J., McNeil, R., Small, W., Cullen, W. Clinician-Scientist Training in Addiction Medicine: A Novel Programme in a Canadian Setting. Academic Medicine 92(10):1367, October 2017.