A PharmD program curricular approach to addressing the opioid crisis

Amy Werremeyer, Elizabeth Skoy, Marketa Marvanova, Yagna Jarajapu, Rebecca Brynjulson, Ross Wilhelm, Heidi Eukel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: The opioid crisis in the United States is widespread and requires large scale efforts to reduce the problem. A recent call by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy requested commitments by member schools to enact curricular changes in order to prepare pharmacy graduates to be impactful in addressing the opioid crisis. Educational activity: A taskforce reviewed existing pain management and opioid-related curricular content in the North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy (NDSU SOP). As a result, all pre-existing opioid-related content was maintained and six new educational activities were designed and implemented to enhance hands-on experience and application of pain management and opioid-related concepts and skills. Students were surveyed after completing the pre-APPE curriculum regarding their confidence in identifying inappropriate use of opioids and engaging in conversations with patients about safe opioid use. Findings: The full longitudinal approach to addressing pain management and opioid content in the North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy program is described. Curricular gap analysis, thoughtful coordination, faculty collaboration, and curriculum mapping were required in order to bring the full pain management and opioid curricular plan to fruition. The vast majority of students were confident in their ability to counsel patients on appropriate options for safe use and disposal of opioids (96%) and their ability to determine if a patient is at risk for opioid misuse (92%). A lower percentage (71%) were confident in their ability to converse with patients regarding opioid misuse concerns. This is the first report to summarize a longitudinal, curriculum-wide approach taken to address the opioid crisis in the United States and in response to AACP's call to action for pharmacy schools. This description may be valuable to other pharmacy and health professions educational programs in search of means to implement and/or enhance their current curricular offerings related to pain management and opioids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-602
Number of pages11
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Curriculum
  • Opioids
  • Pain management
  • Pharmacy education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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