The Annual National Conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) is the only multidisciplinary meeting for health professional educators in substance abuse. AMERSA's primary mission is to encourage the creation and delivery of educational programs in substance abuse for healthcare professionals and to develop a cadre of educators who are effective in facilitating the transfer of research to practice. AMERSA (1) provides leadership and improves training for healthcare professionals in the management of problems related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs;(2) disseminates state-of-the-art information about substance abuse research and education through means such as the annual national scientific meeting and the organization's journal, Substance Abuse;(3) provides mentoring for health professionals interested in becoming teachers, clinicians and researchers in the field;(4) promotes cultural competence in health care professionals in their work with individuals from underserved and high-risk populations affected by alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems;(5) promotes collaboration among multiple professions including, but not limited to, medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, dentistry, pharmacology, and public health;and (6) builds a national network of substance abuse experts who can advise local, national, and international organizations on substance abuse education for health professionals through representation at national forums. The annual meeting gives physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals the opportunity to increase their knowledge of scientific advances and new educational programs focused on substance abuse issues. This proposal builds on AMERSA's 35-year history of successful annual national conferences. The proposed 5-year project will strengthen the high quality and diversity of the national meetings, to be held 2012-2016, by (1) providing travel expenses to attract plenary speakers who are preeminent in the areas of substance abuse research and education, and (2) providing travel award funding and continuing education credits to increase participation of persons from minority groups and underrepresented disciplines. We will identify strong travel award candidates by a) conducting outreach by members of minority and underserved groups who are already active in AMERSA, b) targeting recruitment within disciplinary organizations that represent minority groups and non-medical professions, and c) conducting recruitment among health professions faculty at colleges/universities for underrepresented groups. These institutions include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).
AMERSA remains a strong collaborator in NIDA's technology transfer effort because its members include national and international leaders in substance abuse education and research, and our organization includes multiple disciplines charged with identifying and treating substance abuse. For the proposed conference grant period, we will use travel award funding to increase participation of persons from traditionally minority institutions and underrepresented disciplines. Given AMERSA's strong track record in excellent, evidence- based conference training, the potential of this application for strengthening interdisciplinary substance abuse education, training, and practice is substantial.