Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction has launched the first addiction nursing fellowship of its kind in the United States. This six-month program will provide registered nurses at Boston Medical Center (BMC) with specialized training to care for patients with substance use disorders and their co-occurring conditions. Kerri Fernandes, RN and James Evans, RN, are the inaugural Grayken Addiction Nursing fellows, who began their training on Sept. 24, 2020.
A study published in 2016 indicated that 15 percent of hospitalized patients in Massachusetts have an active substance use disorder; at BMC, that number is approximately 18 percent. While there are certifications for nurses to specialize in addiction, there are no fellowship training programs specifically for registered nurses in the area of addiction.
“As an academic medical center at the forefront of treating addiction, we understand the importance of increasing the number of health care workers who have specialized training to care for patients with substance use disorders,” said Miriam Komaromy, MD, medical director of the Grayken Center. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our nursing colleagues across the hospital on this innovative program, which will expand access to evidence-based treatment and services for our patients with addiction.”
Based on feedback from staff nurses about the challenges of caring for patients with substance use disorders, and the lack of nursing research and evidence-based care in this area, BMC nursing leadership used the shared governance process to launch a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Nursing Council. The 35 plus members of the council, who represent all of the nursing care areas in the hospital, meet monthly to provide education, training and support about caring for individuals with substance use disorder, and enthusiastically collaborated on the development of the addiction nursing fellowship.
“Our nurses consistently demonstrate their dedication to supporting patients with substance use disorders, and their efforts helped drive the development of this fellowship,” said Nancy Gaden, DNP, RN, BMC’s Chief Nursing Officer. “The fellowship will provide nurses with important insight about how patients with substance use disorder interact with the health care system, and they can then bring that knowledge and experience back to their units to support both their colleagues and their patients.”
Grayken nursing fellows will continue to work in their nursing unit during the fellowship, but will dedicate 12 hours a week to take part in clinical and educational activities focused on the treatment and care of individuals with substance use disorder across the care continuum. In particular, they will learn about medication treatment, harm reduction techniques and utilizing trauma-informed care strategies when caring for patients. They will also be responsible for developing a longitudinal project in an area of their choosing during the course of their fellowship, which they will present to BMC’s Substance Use Disorder Nursing Council and their colleagues from their home unit.
“This fellowship is a truly unique experience for BMC nurses to expand their knowledge of treating substance use disorder across the continuum of care, and they are able to learn from nationally recognized experts in the field,” said Jason Fox, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, CARN-AP, a nurse practitioner with BMC’s Addiction Consult service who is the director of the fellowship program.
The six month fellowship will be offered twice a year, with two nurses in each cohort. At BMC, Grayken nursing fellows will work with staff from programs such as Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT), the CATALYST program for young adults, and the Addiction Consult Service, performing patient assessments, developing treatment plans, and learning to present patients to a clinical preceptor or team. They will also have the opportunity to observe at off-site locations, including Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program. Grayken nursing fellows will participate in lectures and case conferences alongside other members of the CARE (Clinical Addiction Research & Education) unit at BMC and Boston University School of Medicine. In addition, the fellows will have access to mentoring sessions led by Grayken Nursing Fellowship faculty.
At the completion of the six month fellowship, the fellows will be prepared to sit for the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) exam.
About Boston Medical Center
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is a private, not-for-profit, 514-bed, academic medical center that is the primary teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New England. BMC offers specialized care for complex health problems and is a leading research institution, receiving more than $166 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2019. It is the 13th largest funding recipient in the U.S. from the National Institutes of Health among independent hospitals. In 1997, BMC founded Boston Medical Center Health Plan, Inc., now one of the top ranked Medicaid MCOs in the country, as a non-profit managed care organization. Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine are partners in Boston HealthNet – 12 community health centers focused on providing exceptional health care to residents of Boston. For more information, please visit http://www.bmc.org.