College of Nursing Offers 3rd Annual Opioid Conference

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The 3rd Annual Opioid Conference and Pre-Conference will bring together experts in substance use disorder to share how genetics, trauma, and opportunity contribute to developing opioid use disorder across the lifespan. This conference will be hosted by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing March 3, with a pre-conference for prescribers March 2.

Dr. Jennifer Tourville

Tennessee has been disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis, said Jennifer Tourville, DNP, executive director for the UT Institute for Public Service SMART Initiative, who will serve as moderator for the conference. For more than a decade, Tennessee has ranked in the top five states for opioid prescription rates per person, she said. Tennessee was among the top five states in the U.S. for overdose rates in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The opioid crisis affects every single person in Tennessee, even those who don’t have personal or family issues related to opioid misuse disorder,” Dr. Tourville said. “Drug use negatively impacts our health care system, judicial system, child services and foster care, education, the environment, and the workforce, and costs Tennessee over $2 billion annually.”

The focus of the March 3 conference is “Serving Families Affected by Opioid Misuse,” and the keynote speaker will be Stephen Loyd, MD, an internal medicine and addiction medicine physician who is chief medical officer for Cedar Recovery in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Loyd is the vice president of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners. He has been in recovery from opioid and benzodiazepine use disorder since 2004. The conference, which takes place 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. at the FedEx Shelby Farms Event Center, 415 Great View East in Memphis, will provide continuing education credits for physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. It is ideal for health care professionals and others who care for people with substance use disorder, such police officers and social workers. The conference is being offered at no cost to participants.

The March 2 pre-conference, which takes place from 5:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. at the same location, will feature Brian Winbigler, PharmD, MBA, speaking on “The Opioid Crisis: Prescribing Laws, Harm Reduction, and the Role of Naloxone.” The target audience for the pre-conference includes physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and dentists. This course, which includes dinner, requires a small fee and will meet the mandatory two hours of continuing education related to prescribing controlled substances in Tennessee. Registration for the conference and pre-conference is available at cenow.uthsc.edu.

“It is crucial that everyone, especially health care providers, stay up to date on this issue as the drug trends continue to change. We have to know what we are dealing with, and annual conferences like these ensure attendees are up to date on the current issues on Tennessee,” Dr. Tourville said.

Additional speakers at the conference include:

  • Jennifer Anderson, MD, OB-GYN provider with LeConte Women’s Healthcare, Sevierville, Tennessee, and Cedar Recovery in Knoxville
  • Jason Yaun, MD, associate professor of Pediatrics at UTHSC, Outpatient General Pediatrics division chief, and the medical director of the ULPS General Pediatrics Clinic
  • Clay Jackson, MD, clinical assistant professor of Family Medicine and Psychiatry at the UTHSC College of Medicine, where he maintains a private practice in family medicine, and directs the palliative medicine program at the West Cancer Center. 
  • Paul B. Hill, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the UTHSC College of Medicine, and a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of geriatric patients.
  • Shawn Hamm, MD, regional medical director for Vertava Health and program director for the Baptist Memorial Medical Education Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program
  • Karen Derefinko, PhD, associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Addiction Science, and Toxicology at UTHSC.

Dr. Hamm said the opioid conference will equip attendees with the tools to make evidence-based decisions in the treatment of a chronic, but entirely treatable, condition.

“My calling as an addiction medicine physician is to use evidence-based medicine to combat the stigma and shame of addiction often associated with this disease,” he said. “I recognize that discussing a possible substance use disorder with a patient can be challenging, and one of the goals of this conference is to provide much-needed guidance on how to frame discussions with patients in a trauma-informed, non-judgmental approach. Our patients often face seemingly insurmountable challenges, and I firmly believe that we as medical providers play a critical role in eliminating barriers to successful treatment and durable recovery.”

The event is made possible by the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce for Healthy Delta Moms and Babies program of the UTHSC College of Nursing, which is funded through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.