Summer 2016

A Collective Assault on Opioid Abuse

First-in-the-nation core competencies will give dental students strategies for fighting an epidemic

Tufts School of Dental Medicine has joined a statewide effort to curb opioid and other prescription drug abuse. The initiative—a collaboration among the three dental schools in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Dental Society and state government—establishes enhanced training for dental students in strategies to prevent prescription-drug misuse.

The statewide “core competencies” are the first of their kind in the nation and will cover the more than 1,800 predoctoral dental students and 550 advanced graduate dental students in the Commonwealth. Each school—Tufts, Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and Harvard School of Dental Medicine—will tailor the core competencies to complement its existing curriculum.

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Photo: ingimage.com

Last November, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker announced a similar partnership with deans from the state’s four medical schools, including Tufts School of Medicine, as well as the Massachusetts Medical Society.

“As a dentist may be the first person a patient sees where strong medications are needed for pain, it is of utmost importance that the clinician understands the significance of assessing that patient for substance misuse risk, while still needing to effectively treat their pain,” says Huw F. Thomas, dean of Tufts School of Dental Medicine. “It is only through sound dental-educational programs and standards that a thorough appreciation of an effective treatment regimen can be established.” Thomas was cochair of the Governor’s Dental Education Working Group.

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