Should Medical Schools Rethink How They Teach Doctors About Pain in Wake of Opioid Crisis?
The medical world in the US is currently, and with good reason, experiencing a reluctance to prescribe opioid based pain medication. It was the over-prescription of opioid based pain medication that kickstarted the current opioid crisis, after all.
An issue though is beginning to arise. What are newly trained physicians supposed to prescribe their patients who are experiencing chronic pain? They will certainly encounter plenty of people who are suffering from post-operation discomfort, injuries or pain inducing diseases.
Medical Students are now Taught More About Pain Management Than Previous Generations
This was one of the issues concerning medical students that recently gathered for a four-day course at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, which is home to one of the country’s leading medical schools.
“I initially was a bit scared and I guess a bit wary coming into this course because of the opioid crisis,” said one student. “That seems like that’s the only thing that people have been talking about nowadays.”
Traditionally, even though doctors attend to injuries and illnesses, and injuries and illnesses are associated with pain, pain treatment is not something that takes up too much time of a medical student’s curriculum.
“Most medical schools get about nine hours of formalized pain education,” said Dr. Shravani Durbhakula, a pain management specialist at the hospital that’s part of Johns Hopkins University. “If I was to think back to my training, it probably is somewhere about that much time.”
Medical Schools are Beginning to Educate Students Much More About Combatting Pain
Things are about to change. A new course at John’s Hopkins University is all about pain and pain management. Medical students are taught that pain is as much an emotional experience as it is a physical one. They are also taught that when it comes to pain management, opioids are simply a single tool available to allow people to cope with what they are experiencing.
“The takeaway message that I distinctly remember leaving with was that pain management is extremely complicated,” said the same medical student who was quoted earlier. “It’s not just, give this medication and they’ll feel better.”
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