Nursing: Alaska Advanced Practice Nurse Pain Management, Opioid Use, and Addiction

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About the Course

Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) have a responsibility to understand the appropriate use of opioid medications, including the risks inherent to this category of therapeutic products. Many APNs are likely to encounter patients in severe pain requiring treatment with opioid pain medications across multiple practice settings. It is critical that they are well versed in the federal and state laws governing the prescribing of these products. A thorough understanding of pain management, opioids, their use, misuse, and potential solutions to this public health issue will greatly contribute to improved patient health and quality of life.  The Alaska State legislation requires prescribers registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to complete at least two hours of continuing education in pain management, opioid use, and addiction. In addition, the Alaska State Medical Board has similar requirements for license renewals (Alaska Department of Health and Social Services [ADHSS], 2019). This course is specifically designed to meet these requirements for Alaska APNs. The course provides an overview of the proper clinical use of opioids to help APNs understand and appreciate how differing clinical use guidelines should be safely and effectively applied to various practice settings and populations. 

Learning Outcomes: 
Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
  • Describe the category of drugs governed by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970.
  • Explain a scenario where an opioid medication may be the best first-line therapeutic choice.
  • Characterize alternative treatments that should be considered before prescribing opioid medications.
  • Identify one objective tool that can be used to assess the use of opioids.
  • Name a category of medications that should be avoided, if possible, in patients receiving opioid medications.
  • Discuss instances where the use of opioids in palliative care may be appropriate.
  • Understand the extent of opioid medication misuse in the United States.
  • Appreciate the use of an assessment instrument to estimate the risk of opioid misuse.
  • Explain, in general terms, how naloxone can be effective at countering opioid overdosage.

About the Author:  
Bradley Gillespie, PharmD

Dr. Gillespie trained as a clinical pharmacist and has practiced in an industrial setting for the past 25+ years. His initial role was as a clinical pharmacology and biopharmaceutics reviewer at the FDA, followed by 20 years of leading Early Development programs in the pharma/biotech/nutritional industries. In addition to his industrial focus, he remains a registered pharmacist and enjoys mentoring drug development scientists and health professionals, leading workshops, and developing continuing education programs for pharmacy, nursing, and other medical professionals.

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  • Alaska