Podcast: How Jefferson Trains Students to Battle the Opioid Epidemic

From Narcan training and distribution, to empathetically helping those suffering from addiction, improving lives is a focus at the University.

In a city in the throes of a debilitating opioid epidemic, faculty and students at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have undertaken a mission of awareness and education related to combatting overdoses and saving lives.

It is a daunting task that requires an all-hands response to – in a true Jefferson sense – help improve lives.

In this episode of the Nexus Podcast, experts across many fields of study at the University discuss the epidemic’s societal impacts locally, its impacts within healthcare and what people can do to help.

Opioid Epidemic
Nora Kramer, a registered nurse working in the trauma department, volunteered at a clinic in Kensington to help those battling opioid addiction. (Photos by ©Thomas Jefferson University Photography Services)

From the Rams for Recovery group and the Student Opioid Response Team to lessons within  nursing, population health, medical, health-communication design, trauma counselling and many other programs, harm-reduction efforts include learning how to safely administer Suboxone and Narcan (which has come into play in real-life situations) and mapping out and improving the patient treatment journey in Philadelphia.

They also share insights into how Jefferson is training students and staff to be citizens prepared to not only educate but help save lives as the nature of the epidemic – and societal responses to it amid political pressures – continue to evolve.

Opioid Epidemic
Dr. Kathryn M Shaffer, associate professor in the College of Nursing, teaches a course called Population Health and Care Transitions.

Among the experts working in this space is Dr. Kathryn M. Schaffer, associate professor in the College of Nursing who teaches a course called Population Health and Care Transitions. At the start of each semester, students attend a presentation to get trained and certified in Narcan use. She summarized the importance of these efforts at one such session in the spring semester.

“The opioid crisis is a public-health crisis which impacts every fiber and fabric like inch of this country,” she said. “No economic status is exempt. No race or religion is exempt. No gender is exempt.”

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