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UNE preparing students to battle opioid epidemic

The University of New England received a grant to expand it's medication assisted treatment training for students

MAINE, USA — The University of New England received a $450,000 federal grant to expand its medication-assisted treatment program. Now all students in the physician assistant program and College of Osteopathic Medicine at UNE will be able to receive this training. 

"This is their time to really make a huge contribution to the public health of our nation," said Jennifer Van Deusen, inter-professional education coordinator at UNE COM and the principal investigator of the grant. 

Students will be studying FDA-approved medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. 

"Giving us that training so that when we do graduate, we're already prepared," said UNE PA student Lenora Sheppard.

The grant will be used over three years by UNE. It will also be used to help create a curriculum for the same program to used at schools across the country. 

"It is incumbent upon us, particularly as the site of Maine's only medical school to step up and do our share," said Van Deusen who will be collaborating to create the program. 

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UNE has offered the program to PA students since 2018, and now all eligible students at the school will be able to work towards their certification. 

"We can hit the workforce immediately prepared to do this," said Sheppard. 

Students also hope this will help provide greater access to this treatment in Maine. 

"Particularly within Maine, especially in northern Maine, and areas where they have limited health care providers," said Sheppard. 

The grant was provided to UNE from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.