Opioid epidemic focus of international collaboration

Published 09 November 2016

Nursing students from the University of New England have participated in a video link up with 900 University at Buffalo (UB) students to learn more about international best practices in tackling the USA prescription opioid epidemic.

Professor Cynthia Stuhlmiller from the School of Health, on faculty at UB, said the international collaboration involved students from multiple professions including nursing, social work, medicine, occupational and physical therapy, dentistry, pharmacy and management.

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“The forum included a clinical case presentation where the different disciplines had to develop a treatment plan for a fictional patient; driving home the idea that quality, patient-centered, cost-effective health care requires collaboration among all professions.”

The case presented to the students was how to deal with a person with opioid dependency who has overdosed on heroin.

“What was most interesting is that the Buffalo students recommended referring the patient, whereas the UNE students were more patient focused, they suggested talking to the patient and finding out what was going on or if there was a suicide risk. They had a more holistic approach to patient care rather than just referring.”

Professor Stuhlmiller said this type of cross international simulation allows students to see how other practitioners operate and innovate.

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“It brings an international richness on a global level without the travel. I want to do far more of this cross education and having a global curriculum where people can have an enriched education experience without having to travel.”

She said Australia is advanced in inter-professional education compared with the US, but exercises like the video link up help bring together other disciplines to tackle health problems.