URI College of Nursing hosts workshop to tackle opioid crisis

Seminar at R.I. Nursing Education Center geared toward nurse practitioners, students

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R.I. Nursing Education Center. Photo by Nora Lewis

PROVIDENCE, R.I., October 24, 2017 — Drug overdoses in Rhode Island and across the country are increasing every year, and opioid addiction has reached epidemic levels. In Rhode Island alone, more than 1,000 people have died of an opioid overdose in the last five years, according to the state Department of Health.

Street drugs like heroin are only part of the problem. Prescription pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl play a significant role in the opioid crisis. In fact, fentanyl accounts for more than half of the overdose deaths in the state, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

“No matter what the access point is (for addicts), before you can drag them out of the river, you have to know how they got there,” said Denise Coppa, associate professor and interim associate dean of graduate nursing at URI’s College of Nursing. “We want to have a better sense of how to prescribe and how to sustain people in medication-assisted therapies and complimentary therapies.”

To that end, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence is scheduled to host a workshop for nurse practitioners and nurse practitioner students on opioid prescribing and medically assisted therapies on Nov. 18. The workshop will include seminars on rules and policies of opioid prescribing, safe practices for opioid prescribing, and medically assisted alternatives to managing pain, including acupuncture and physical therapy.

The workshop — a partnership among URI, the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Rhode Island (NPARI), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Thundermist Health Center and Providence Community Health Center — is funded by a grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration. It is open to nurse practitioners and students throughout the region, and is free for NPARI members and students and nurse practitioners at Thundermist and Providence Community Health.

Coppa, who is hosting the workshop and will lead a lunchtime discussion on “Excellence in Precepting,” said she is anticipating as many as 100 nurse practitioners to attend to expand their education and become leaders in the battle against the opioid crisis.

“The main objective is to increase workforce education for nurse practitioners,” Coppa said.

The workshop is scheduled for Nov. 18, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Nursing Education Center, 350 Eddy St., Providence. The seminar costs $60 for non-NPARI members, and $50 for non-member students. To register, visit npari.enpnetwork.com.