One of the advantages of the relative young age of MBKU’s School of PA Studies is its ability to pursue and utilize unique funding opportunities if those opportunities add real value to the school’s new curriculum. In 2019, the PA Education Association (PAEA) was awarded a $500,000 grant over two years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to facilitate the development, deployment and assessment of a standardized substance use disorder (SUD) curriculum for PA programs. In a blinded evaluation, the PAEA chose 10 educational institutions to disburse this grant money to, with each school’s mandate to develop a specific part of the curriculum, and then to collaborate with each other as they put their sections together to shape the final learning module.
Another Tool in the Box
When MBKU was chosen as one of the 10 pilot programs, SPAS Program Director Allison Mollet, MMS, PA-C, began to put together a unit on Behavioral Addiction before meeting with PAEA and the other nine institutions in Washington, D.C. in November. The full 10-hour module for educating PA students on how to treat substance abuse disorders is now in its final stages of completion and will be implemented this year.
PA Mollet is excited about the prospect of adding an enormously relevant tool to the skillset of MBKU PA students. “We have a huge opioid and alcohol epidemic in America today, but one of the problems is that we have so few health care providers trained on how to identify and treat SUDs,” says Mollet. “It is such an important health care issue, so we want our graduates to have skills that give them the most impact with patients wherever they choose to practice. It represents our commitment to be on the cutting edge of teaching what is important for graduates in today’s world.”
A Part of Something Important
Helping develop this curriculum gives MBKU the opportunity to have a lasting influence on PA education nationwide. After a period of collecting the data produced by a pilot implementation of the curriculum, there is a potential that accrediting bodies will require it of other academic institutions. “Our desire is to be a part of something bigger than our own university,” says Mollet. “We want to contribute to the field of medicine. This really has the potential to affect a health care epidemic.” And even though the School of PA Studies is using the grant fund and creating the curriculum, PA Mollet doesn’t intend to keep it to herself. “We’re already working with the College of Pharmacy, and we have plans to expand and to apply the skills we learn to case studies, so that it’s valuable to all the programs at MBKU,” she says.
When one takes into account the number of people whose lives and families are personally touched by the SUD crisis, MBKU’s involvement also represents a deeply important opportunity to have a lasting effect on people all across the country.