Campus alert status is orange: For the latest campus alert status, news and resources, visit

Search Close Search
Search Close Search


Mass. DPH Commissioner calls UMMS opioid safe-prescriber training a ‘national model’

By Sarah Willey and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

July 28, 2016

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, observed the new, immersive opioid safe-prescribing and pain management training that is mandatory for all medical and nursing students at UMass Medical School on Wednesday.

Dr. Bharel praised UMMS for leading the charge to better train medical and advanced practice nursing students in prevention and management of opioid abuse by delivering on the promise to implement all 10 core competencies recommended by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Medical Education Working Group on Prescription Drug Misuse.

“Rapidly, UMass Medical School has put in place a curriculum that addresses all of those core competencies and allows students to understand how to effectively prescribe opiates as well as how to manage that with the potential for opioid misuse,” Bharel said. She called the UMMS curriculum a “national model” as well as “a critical piece to us fighting together this opioid epidemic.”

Bharel sat in with faculty to watch a demonstration of the simulation-based training program. It builds upon classroom learning in which patient actors, also known as standardized patients, portray a full range addiction scenarios commonly experienced in the day-to-day practice of medicine. After the training, Bharel heard from an emotional panel of recovering addicts and individuals impacted by addiction who shared their powerful stories of addiction—the same stories they share with the students about their struggles.

“It’s not easy to look in the mirror and see a heroin addict,” said Meghan Giacomuzzi, who has been in recovery for three years and also lost her brother to addiction. “We came from a normal family. We knew drugs were bad. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

Giacomuzzi said by participating in the panel portion of the training, she is able to provide future providers with a unique opportunity to learn about addiction from those most impacted—something you can’t learn from a textbook. It was a sentiment echoed by Dr. Bharel.

“They remind us all that substance abuse disorder is a medical illness that deserves medical treatment, prevention, intervention and appropriate treatment in recovery,” Bharel said.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
GSN dean appointed to Gov. Baker’s special commission on opioid safe prescribing
AP Big Story: UMass Medical School trains students to fight opioid abuse
UMMS Graduate School of Nursing adopts opioid conscious curriculum
UMMS implements curriculum changes in current academic year to address opioid crisis