St. Paul’s Hospital’s unique addiction fellowship program
When it comes to innovative health research and care, St. Paul’s continues to be at the forefront of Vancouver’s mind. The St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship and the Canada Addiction Medicine Research Fellowship are just another example of St. Paul’s paving the path for better care.
The St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship is one of only two programs of its kind in Western Canada and is the largest inter-disciplinary addiction medicine fellowship in North America.
It’s important that training programs are developed to bring physicians, nurses, and other health care providers up to speed so that they can provide the best support and treatment for patients with addiction. Training programs are also an important step in creating recognized sub-specialties in medicine.
“You need comprehensive training programs in order to support a specialty area of medicine to be recognized, and that’s what’s happening in the United States at the moment,” said Annabel Mead, Director of the St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship. Currently, the US has at least 27 addiction medicine fellowship programs available to physicians.
“In Canada Addiction Medicine is not recognized as a sub-specialty. It is an important goal to achieve this recognition in order to increase access of patients to addiction treatment and ensure high levels of skill and expertise in the practice of Addiction Medicine. Knowledge and techniques in this field have developed to such a degree that understanding and application of this work by all doctors cannot be expected.”
St. Paul’s Goldcorp Addictions Medicine Fellowship program runs for 12 months and consists of nine months of core programming and three months of electives. This way, the training is tailored to the individual and specialty the Fellows work in, such as family practice, internal medicine, psychiatry and nursing. The program is research- and academia-focused in addition to practical clinical care. Fellows spend at least one month at various different addiction settings including the St. Paul’s Addiction Medicine Consultation Service, residential treatment centres, the Pain Management Program at OrionHealth, and the Inner City Youth Mental Health program.
While there is a heavy focus on the academic side of addiction medicine, the program also focuses on recognizing that the Fellows will be leaders in the community for addiction care.
“The program helps prepare the Fellows for working in an advisory capacity with other doctors in the community that might not have such addiction experience, and be able to participate in shared-care of patients with complex addiction,” said Annabel.
In addition to the St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship, St Paul’s is also home to the Canada Addiction Medicine Research Fellowship. This program focuses on research training and is a US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research training program. The goal of the program is to train addiction medicine physicians in the skills necessary for a career in addiction research.
However, the addictions medicine fellowships aren’t only for physicians. While the application is closed for physicians for next year’s fellowship, the application is still open until November 30, 2015 for nurses interested in the program. The deadline for the application for the Research Fellowship is also still open until December 4, 2015. In addition to training nurses and physicians, the fellowship will expand to accept the first Social Work Fellow for the 2016/2017 cohort.
“Nurses are largely under prepared in their training to address the specific needs for patients and their families struggling with addiction,” said Cheyenne Johnson, Director of the Addiction Nursing Fellowship and alumni of the program. “Many of these skills are learned on the job and vary between service providers. This Fellowship aims to train nurses in an evidence-based manner to become nursing leaders in addiction for their co-workers, allied health, patients and their families. For nurses, who typically spend the most time with patients, and are often the first point of contact for patients, this particular program can enhance patient care and open doors for future career options.”
“Addiction affects some of our society’s most marginalized individuals, as well as many individuals in the general population. Providing evidence-based addiction care helps to prevent future illnesses, infections, injuries or even death that may result from an individual’s substance use,” said Nursing Fellow Pauline Voon. “Because nurses often spend the most time with patients, we have a huge role to play in promoting dignity and providing hope for individuals with addiction.”
Previous to beginning the program, Kit Fairgrieve – a family physician and current Fellow in the program – found it challenging to manage and treat chronic pain and long-term opioid therapy in his practice. That’s where this fellowship program stepped up to the plate.
“One of my goals this year was to really get a thorough understanding of pain and addiction, and how to approach that - so I’m going to do some extra training in a few areas there,” said Kit.
Nursing Fellow Elyse Vani was driven to the fellowship due to her daily experience with untreated addiction. She could see how it was impacting the health of patients, their families and communities.
“My hope in pursuing the Addictions Nursing Fellowship is to deepen my own knowledge of complex addiction care, be an active knowledge translator for other nurses and staff and ensure that our patients receive compassionate, evidence based care from culturally competent and skilled health care teams,” said Elyse.
The fellowship program has been an enriching experience for this year’s Fellows.
“It has truly been an amazing experience to witness the variety of local addiction services available to patients, and to work alongside the physician Fellows and other allied health professionals as part of the fellowship experience. I am extremely grateful to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation for supporting nurses in addiction training,” said Pauline.
For those interested in learning more about the program, click here!
Interested in applying to the Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship? Click here!
Interested in applying to the Research Fellowship? Click here!
Interested in applying for the Nursing Fellowship? Please email Cheyenne Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dianne Doyle, President & CEO, and Geoff Plant, Chair, PHC Board of Directors