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National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Joins National Effort to Combat Opioid Abuse

Opioid and prescription drug abuse are serious and growing problems in the United States. Since 1999, there has been a 300 percent increase in the sale of opioid painkillers, and a dramatic rise in the abuse of opioid drugs and the number of overdose deaths. The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) and several other nursing groups are working on a national effort to combat this serious public health problem through nursing education.

NACNS, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Nurses Association, and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties are developing an educational series for nursing faculty, students, and clinicians on prescribing and administering these crucial but easily abused drugs. The series incorporates content in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

Over the past month, 191 schools of nursing with advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs have pledged to educate their APRN students on the CDC’s guidelines. These guidelines will augment the information APRN students already receive on managing pain with pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions. The White House announced this commitment earlier today.

This announcement was linked to the White House Champions of Change event, which will highlight ten individuals who have made a difference in advancing prevention, treatment, and recovery. NACNS will participate in today’s proceedings. Dr. Deborah Trautman, President and CEO of AACN, will discuss the partnership forged to launch the educational series.

“As an association of APRNs who promote and implement the use of the latest research evidence in health care practice in a wide range of health care settings, clinical nurse specialists are a crucial part of any effort to increase patient safety,” said Sharon Horner, PhD, RN, MC-CNS, FAAN, President of NACNS and Professor and Dolores V. Sands Chair in Nursing Research at the University of Texas in Austin. “NACNS is proud to join our nursing colleagues and the White House in this important effort.”

Participation in this effort is part of NACNS’s ongoing commitment to address the opioid epidemic. That commitment includes membership in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services External Opioid Working Group and the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose, and educating its members on opioid addiction, approaches to pain management and effective alternatives to opioids for pain management.

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