There is compelling need for greater numbers of health professionals to be engaged in conducting clinical and translational research addressing substance abuse. Yet few academic institutions have implemented comprehensive efforts to stimulate and prepare individuals at the pre-doctoral level for careers in clinically-oriented substance abuse research. The New York University School of Medicine (NYU SoM) and its collaborating partners propose to expand and increase the reach and impact of a substance abuse research training program developed for medical, nursing and dental students. The purpose of this program, now entering its fifth year, is to stimulate participants'interest in pursuing careers in drug abuse research. Using learner-directed interactive computer- based educational technology, we have developed the flexible and content-rich Substance Abuse Research Education and Training (SARET) program to educate health professional students about addiction and the fundamentals of clinical research. A subset of learners, motivated by participation in this curriculum, participate in a summer-long program centered on an intensive substance abuse-related research experience with a seasoned mentor, aimed at stimulating enduring interest in this field. The SARET program is an interprofessional collaboration between the NYU School of Medicine (Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, and Division of Educational Informatics), NYU College of Nursing, and NYU College of Dentistry. Our collaboration has built successfully on our extensive experience in developing and evaluating innovative approaches to health professional education and in substance abuse research and training. Working closely with our research, education and clinical partners (including a NIDA CTN node and Bellevue Hospital Center), we have developed, implemented and evaluated this innovative program, integrated it into our schools'curricula (reaching over 1,000 students), and engaged activated students in productive mentored summer and year-long research experiences. SARET has had a significant positive impact on participants'attitudes towards substance abuse research. We have made SARET exportable to other health professional schools and training programs by ensuring that the curriculum is simple to update, revise, and adapt for use in diverse educational settings. We are now poised to enter the second "phase" of the SARET initiative by expanding the target audience to include social work students and fostering the curriculum's national impact by disseminating it broadly to schools and training institutions across the country. Our overarching goal is to increase the number of physicians, nurses, dentists and social workers who, stimulated by participation, follow career paths that advance clinically-oriented research on substance abuse.
Despite the great toll substance abuse takes on society, the pace of discovery of new and effective prevention and treatment strategies is only modest, and major delays exist in translating such knowledge into improved population health. There is an urgent need to increase the number of health care professionals conducting clinically applicable research in substance abuse prevention and treatment. The goal of this grant, therefore, is to expand, and increase the national impact of, a substance abuse research training program targeting students in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry and social work.
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