With the rising trend in deaths due to OUD, more licensed practitioners are needed to help in fighting this health crisis. Currently there are around 270,000 nurse practitioners, 2 with only about 6% that have a waiver to prescribe OUD treatment medications. 1 It is key that this gap in our system be addressed, considering that opioid related deaths increased by close to 10% between 2016 and 2017. 3
The steps a nurse practitioner would fulfill in order to become certified in prescribing medications used to treat OUD, such as buprenorphine, would be to first obtain a license from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). The application can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice website. The applicant would also need to complete no less than 24 hours of training by an approved DATA facility. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) all partner together to provide this training free of charge.
The Providers’ Clinical Support System (PCSS), provides this 24 hour training nationwide.The training is broken down into an 8 hour and a 16 hour segment; all 24 hours of training involve patient contact. The training covers various topics, such as dispensation of FDA- approved medications, documentation of administered medication, pharmacology, OUD misuse, patient evaluations, reversal of opiate overdose, therapy, and rehabilitation. This form of treatment taught in the course is known as Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT), which is treatment that involves therapy in conjunction with medication for patients suffering with OUD. 5