MCPHS Students at the IPE activity
Academic Innovation | 6/30/2023

‘We All Bring Different Perspectives’: Teaming Up to Treat Opioid Use Disorders

By Jennifer Persons

MCPHS Students at the IPE activity

Interprofessional experiences prepare students to help patients struggling with addiction.

Hundreds of MCPHS students across the Manchester, NH and Worcester, MA campuses gathered on June 15 for an interprofessional practice and education (IPE) activity to learn how collaboration could save the lives of patients affected by substance use disorders.

“This is the first time I’ve worked with other providers to figure out the best treatment plan for a patient,” said Cate Todd, MSOT ’24. “We all bring different perspectives to the case, which we got to see in action today.”

Students studying acupuncture, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and physician assistant studies participated in the activity. They received a case study about a patient who suffered a hip fracture, was prescribed opioids for pain management, became addicted, and then overdosed in a provider’s office. Together, the students discussed actions they could have taken to prevent the patient from developing an addiction.

“We talked about how many red flags were missed and how we all, as different kinds of providers, could have noticed the warning signs sooner,” said Megan Lynch, DPT ’24. Her group was concerned about the amount of pain medication prescribed after surgery, as well as providers not asking enough questions when the patient asked for more.

Many participants said one of the most important lessons learned from the activity was that acupuncture can support addiction recovery in addition to aiding with pain management following major surgery.

“We know the benefits of acupuncture, but it was interesting to see how it could apply in this specific case,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Susan Carroccino, DNP, MSN, RN, one of the faculty facilitators at the activity. “All providers really should have the opportunity to experience other professions, even just for a day, to encourage this kind of collaboration.”

Students also learned the steps for administering naloxone, the generic form of Narcan, which counteracts the effects of opioid overdoses. The treatment is delivered via a nasal spray device. Drug-free training devices were passed around during the activity so students could practice using them.