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Closing the Opioid Treatment Gap Through Advance Practice Nursing Activation: Curricular Design and Initial Outcomes.

INTRODUCTION: Buprenorphine, an effective medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), reduces opioid-related harms including overdose, but a significant gap exists between MOUD need and treatment, especially for marginalized populations. Historically, low MOUD treatment capacity is rising, driven by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). A graduate nursing course was designed to increase equitable buprenorphine treatment delivery by APRNs. We report on baseline findings of a curriculum evaluation study with a pretest-posttest design.

DESIGN: Computerized surveys assessed trainee satisfaction with the course, trainee knowledge for providing MOUD, and trainee satisfaction in working with people who use drugs.

METHODS: Quantitative survey results utilizing Likert scales are presented.

RESULTS: Baseline precourse surveys revealed less than half (44%) of APRN students agreed/strongly agreed that they had a working knowledge of drugs and drug-related problems and 37% agreed/strongly agreed that they knew enough about the causes of drug problems to carry out their roles when working with people who use drugs. Approximately two thirds of APRN students agreed/strongly agreed that they want to work with people who use drugs (63%), that it is satisfying to work with people who use drugs (66%), and that it is rewarding to work with people who use drugs (63%). Nearly all students reported high satisfaction with the course.

CONCLUSION: APRN students reported high satisfaction with a novel course grounded in health equity that has potential to reduce health disparities and accelerate the closure of the MOUD treatment gap, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, rural populations, and transition-age youth.

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