RU joins regional collaboration to educate on best practice for preventing substance abuse

School of Nursing assistant professor Linda Ely

Radford University Assistant Professor of Nursing Linda Ely will lead a Radford University team implementing a three-year, $187,000 grant to further prepare nurses and counseling students for drug and alcohol abuse prevention efforts.

Radford University will partner with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine and Jefferson College of Health Sciences to implement the $945,000 program regionally. The grant is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The project is entitled "SBIRT Training for Students in Health Professions in Rural Southwest Virginia." At Radford, Counselor Education Department Chair Nadine Hartig and Assistant Professor of Nursing Kate Brennan will join Ely on the project.

"It is a pleasure and privilege to join my colleagues on campus and across the region on this important rural health care and education initiative," said Ely. "Beginning in the spring 2016, we will be implementing a best practice that has been proven to be very effective."

Abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is a costly problem, exacting more than $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Related healthcare costs alone account for $137 billion.

Overall, the grant will enable the participating organizations to implement the Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) protocol into the education and training of nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, dentists, dental hygienists, behavioral health counselors, social workers and public health workers. To assist in developing and integrating SBIRT curriculum that is sensitive to professional missions and the needs of patients/clients in Southwest Virginia, 17 regional public service agencies will provide their expertise and serve as conduits for implementation.

The SBIRT protocol is a public health and evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent problematic use, abuse and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. The model calls for interprofessional, widespread and community-based screening for health risk behaviors. The SBIRT protocol has been under development for 10 years nationally and the partnerships in the program for which the grant was awarded have been under development for three years, according to Dr. Nancy Brossoie, project director.

"We want to help our students and future health care providers normalize their conversations with patients and clients about drinking and drug abuse,” Ely said. “RU and its partners are not introducing it in one class; we are introducing it over the next three years throughout the curricula for health care professionals at leading educational institutions."

Oct 28, 2015