A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem

by Anna Schlissel, Pain Research Education and Policy Program (PREP), Tufts University School of Medicine

The Pain Research, Education and Policy Program (PREP) is honored to present Judy Foreman, nationally syndicated Health Columnist and Author, on Thursday, March 14, 4:00-5:30 PM in the Merritt Auditorium at Tufts Dental School. Ms. Foreman is a nationally syndicated medical journalist with 37 years of experience. She has covered a variety of health issues including fitness, aging, cancer, heart disease, pain, nutrition, numerous specific diseases and basic biological science.

The Pain Research, Education, and Policy Program invites students, alumni, health care professionals, clinical staff and faculty,  health communicators, public health advocates, and others to join us for Ms. Foreman’s informative and engaging lecture,  immediately followed by a panel discussion.

For more information about the event, please click here

Add comment March 6th, 2013

Institute of Medicine Releases Report on the State of Pain Care in the United States

by Pamela Katz Ressler, MS-PREP, RN, HN-BC, Adjunct Faculty, PREP-Aired blog moderator and administrator, Pain Research Education and Policy Program, Tufts University School of Medicine

On June 29, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report addressing the issue of pain in the United States and called for “a cultural transformation in the way pain is viewed and treated” (IOM report p. 3).   The 313-page report entitled: Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research, examines the enormity of the burden of pain from many measures.  Chronic pain affects at least 116 million U.S. adults and the financial cost of pain to society, measured in 2010 dollars, is estimated to range between $560 and $635 billion annually.  In comparing these staggering numbers to other chronic diseases, the cost of pain is greater than the cost of heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. 

The authors of the IOM report base their recommendations for change and transformation of pain on nine underlying principles:

  • A moral imperitive
  • Chronic pain can be a disease in itself
  • Value of comprehensive treatment
  • Need for interdisciplinary approaches
  • Importance of prevention
  • Wider use of existing knowledge
  • Conundrum of opioids
  • Roles of patients and clinicians
  • Value of a public health and community-based approach

The IOM report highlights the importance of education in the multidisciplinary nature of pain issues and includes it as a key action item in the proposed blueprint for transformation of pain in our society.  On the topic of professional education IOM report recommends:

  • Expansion and redesign of education programs to transform the understanding of pain
  • Improving the curriculum and education for health care professionals around the issue of pain
  • Increasing the number of health professionals with advanced expertise in pain care

We, at the Tufts Pain Research Education and Policy program (PREP), applaud the IOM for increasing awareness of the enormous burden of pain in our society by issuing the report: “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research“.   We are also extremely proud that the Tufts PREP program has been providing the type of  comprehensive pain curriculum proposed by the IOM report for over a decade, since 1999, and remains the first and only multidisciplinary postgraduate  program of its kind in the United States.

Your comments and thoughts on the IOM report are welcome;  please click here to read a full, unabridged online version of “Relieving Pain in America: A blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research”.

Add comment July 5th, 2011

The Pain Research, Education, and Policy Programs at Tufts University Welcome Wendy Williams

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator

You may see a new face if you are on the Tufts University School of Medicine campus in Boston these days.  Wendy Williams, BSN, M.Ed, is in a new role with the Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs at Tufts University School of Medicine, focusing on program development and administration. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Wendy to ask her a few questions about herself and her visions for the PREP programs.  

Welcome Wendy…Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I just arrived at Tufts from spending 8 years at Northeastern University in the School of Nursing working to ensure high quality clinical nursing education placements for both the undergrad/pre-licensure students and the advanced practice students seeking both clinical and non-clinical nursing master’s degrees.   My own clinical nursing background centers around oncology and HIV/AIDS.    I spent wonderful years at both Dana Farber Cancer Institute, during the time they had inpatient units, and at Harvard Community Health Plan/Harvard Vanguard with other highly skilled nurses on the HIV/AIDS Resource Team.I married a great guy back in 1996 who had a couple of sweet little boys who are now terrific college age young men, studying here in Boston.  My husband, Jeff, and I live in Framingham with our 3-legged cat, Punky, and hairless dog, Diddy.

What interests you about the PREP programs?

The concern for under-treated pain and pain management are steady threads that ran throughout my own clinical practice.  Ensuring adequate pain management is a strong cornerstone of quality nursing care and practice, so the PREP programs of study are very attractive to me and tie together much of what I value.  The chance to work collaboratively with the three program leaders (who are also physicians), Dr. Dan Carr and Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon and Dr. Ylisabyth Bradshaw, is an opportunity I want to leverage.I have long sought ways to be a force behind strengthening linkages between medicine and nursing and other health care disciplines to encourage both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to health care.  The PREP programs present an ideal setting to have broad-based conversations around the area of pain issues.  Also, my own master’s degree is in education, specializing in adult and organizational learning, so .  the opportunity to develop a program of study and optimize learning for students globally is a really strong draw for me to be here at Tufts working with the PREP programs.

What do you see as the strengths and challenges of the PREP program?

A real strength of the PREP programs is its unique position in masters level education  that delves deeply into the many physical/clinical, social and scientific aspects of pain.  There is not a population of people, worldwide, that is not impacted by pain issues.  Also, the fact that the PREP programs are not solely clinically based creates a rich learning environment for many types of students… clinicians seeking to be subject matter experts in pain issues learn side by side with non-clinicians who may be seeing the PREP programs as a way to become well-informed advocates for pain issues.  After about a month in this role, I see two challenges to the PREP programs that I would like to positively impact.  One challenge is getting more and more people in the greater Boston area to know about this great set of programs and to become students in the program.  I happen to know one graduate of the program, Hallie Greenberg, a nurse from the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and know that there are so many others that would be really inspired to become proficient in this area.  The other challenge is understanding and communicating to others clear linkages between getting one of the certificates and/or the master’s degree and a specific career enhancement.  There seems to be a certain pioneering element to encouraging students to go for the certificates or the degree as a natural next step in career growth.

What are your hopes and vision for the PREP program?

I hope that PREP grows steadily, both in numbers and in innovative educational initiatives, and sustainably with input from all communities of interest: students and alumni and staff and our steering committee and faculty and leaders in pain issues globally.  I would love to speak with students and alumni and gain their insights on how we can best lead the way in pain research, education and policy.  I welcome calls, 617 636-0815, emails wendy.williams@tufts.edu, or simply stop by my office in the M&V building, Room 142A. I’d love to meet you.

Add comment November 15th, 2010

PREP Program International Networking

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by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
One of the aspects of the Pain Research Education and Policy program at Tufts University Medical School that I find so enriching is the diversity of the students, faculty and alumni. The interdisciplinary nature of the program, as well as the international mix of the students helps to create a global community of pain management experts and an ever expanding network of colleagues. I was able to use my Tufts PREP program connections recently by networking with MS-PREP alum Anne Colyn in Luxembourg where she is now living. We had an interesting discussion of the role of integrative modalities of pain management in Europe.

Add comment April 1st, 2010

Feeling the Pain: Addressing Pain Care in the United States

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by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student, PREP-AIRED blog moderator
The Mayday Fund, a leading organziation dedicated to alleviating the incidence, degree and consequence of human physical pain has announced its recommendations for high-quality, cost-effective pain care in this country as we move forward in the decade. The Mayday Fund special Committee on Pain and the Practice of Medicine has recommended 12 action steps in their report entitled: A Call to Revolutionize Chronic Pain Care in America. The committee was made up of clinicians representing nursing, medicine, pharmacy and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive multidisciplinary strategies to move forward in addressing this widespread public health issue. According the Mayday Fund’s report, chronic pain affects as estimated 70 million Americans making the burden of chronic pain on society greater than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. To read the complete report, click here

1 comment March 7th, 2010

PREP Gathering of Students, Alumni and Faculty

The PREP program’s small classes and collaborative learning experiences lead to wonderful , long lasting connections between students, faculty and alumni. PREP students, faculty, staff and alumni joined together at a local Boston restaurant on February 13, 2009 to celebrate three new PREP graduates, Anne Colyn, Jess Gerber, and Marie Belle Francia, and wish them well on their new career adventures.
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MS-PREP 2008 graduates Marie Belle Francia, Anne Colyn, and PREP academic director Libby Bradshaw
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MS-PREP 2008 graduate Jess Gerber, PREP student Gretchen Kindstedt, MS-PREP 2008 graduate Anne Colyn
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PREP student Sherry Brink, MS-PREP 2008 graduate Marie Belle Francia, former PREP program director Jeanne Connolly, PREP student Cindy Rodman

1 comment February 14th, 2009


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