Responding to the Opioid Epidemic Through Education, Patient Care, and Research

The Issue

The rate of overdose related to prescription painkillers and other opioids within the U.S. has increased. 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdose (including prescription opioids and heroin), according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communities, both urban and rural, are facing an opioid epidemic.

The Response

In response to the crisis in their communities and nationwide, AAMC member institutions are actively working to advance medical research, education, and clinical care that addresses the opioid epidemic. Medical educators are enhancing existing coursework in pain management and substance use disorders (SUDs) in innovative ways. While students are exposed to this material through multiple modalities in medical school, to be maximally effective, such experiences are also being reinforced throughout the continuum of medical education, including in residency training, clinical experiences, and continuing education for practicing physicians. AAMC member institutions are also promoting innovations in patient care, conducting cutting-edge research into substance use disorders and pain management, and providing community education programs and events.

Convening Educators, Highlighting Innovative Practices, and Assisting in Meeting Needs

The AAMC is actively working to support the work of its member institutions by sharing successful practices, approaches, and responses among educators, clinicians, and future physicians. As part of this effort, and in response to ongoing assessments of the needs of the academic medicine community, the AAMC has developed a series of strategic activities that will occur over the next three years to further enhance collaboration and sharing of educational responses.

  • AAMC National Workshop to Advance Medical Education to Combat Opioid Misuse: Working Together Across the Continuum
    The AAMC hosted a national workshop in May 2019 – in collaboration with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), and supported, in part, by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – to bring together teams of representatives from medical schools and teaching hospitals, as well as individuals from other stakeholder organizations, to advance educational content related to pain and addiction within undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education. Participants will continue to integrate their learnings into their work at their institutions over the next year or more.
  • Curricular Innovation Awards
    In October 2018, the AAMC awarded four Curricular Innovation Awards, also funded, in part, by the Samueli Foundation, recognizing the leadership of medical education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education levels that provide innovative pain, substance use and addiction training, including non-pharmacological approaches to patient care. The awardees are:

Representatives from these institutions have been invited to publish their curricular resources and will be celebrated guests at the national workshop. The AAMC will open a second call for submissions of curricular innovations after the conclusion of the national workshop.

  • Challenge Grants
    Five institutions will be awarded up to $25,000 each, funded in part by the Samueli Foundation, to respond to the training and development needs of academic medical centers. The grantees will develop tools and resources to support educators in their collaborative efforts to increase faculty proficiency in the areas of pain management, opioid use disorder (OUD), SUDs, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), safe prescribing practices, and addressing stigma. The grantees are
    • Penn State College of Medicine
    • The Robert Larner, M.D., College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
    • The University of Florida College of Medicine
    • The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
    • Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Webinar Series

To share practices being implemented to respond to the opioid epidemic across medical schools and teaching hospitals, in early 2017, the AAMC held a series of webinars examining how academic medicine is responding to this troubling epidemic. Each webinar focuses on a different aspect of the response by medical schools and teaching hospitals, including patient care, to research, to medical education.

View the recording of the Jan. 24, 2017 webinar “The Opioid Epidemic: Addressing the Patient Care Continuum through Academic Medicine” 

View the recording of the Feb. 27, 2017 webinar focusing on research, "Parallel Crises: The Over and Under Prescription of Opioids"

View the recordings of the webinar sub-series focusing on responses across the medical education continuum, "Innovative Educational Approaches to Safe Opiate Prescribing and Pain Management" 

Capitol Hill Briefings

"Care in The Face of the Opioid Epidemic: How Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals are Reaching Underserved Communities" (October 17, 2017)
Read a summary of the briefing

"How Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals are Addressing the Opioid Epidemic" (January 28, 2016)
Read a summary of the briefing
Watch the video recording
Watch the Panel Perspectives video


For More Information Contact:
Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525