UNH training program will increase access to addiction treatment

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Project ECHO participants hosting a PACT MAT training

Participants from UNH's department of nursing and Institute for Health Policy and Practice host the first Project ECHO MAT training for health providers in New Hampshire.

The University of New Hampshire has launched a Project ECHO Hub – a virtual learning model – to develop a Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) training program for community medical providers across New Hampshire and nurse practitioner students at UNH.

MAT is an evidence-based treatment approach that combines behavioral therapies and medications to treat substance use disorders. Its rollout across New Hampshire will help to increase the behavioral healthcare workforce capacity and improve access to care for the increasing number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction.

The Project ECHO Hub is a joint effort between the New Hampshire Citizens Health Initiative (a program of UNH’s Institute for Health Policy and Practice) and the Department of Nursing. The MAT program is working with 18 community practice teams in the first cohort, which launched in April, with more planned throughout the upcoming year. Participants in this first cohort come from all corners of New Hampshire.

“I was not aware of the ECHO format prior to this experience,” says John Burns, Director of the SOS Recovery Community Organization at Goodwin Health. “I am tremendously excited to experience the collaboration of so many peers and experts in such an interactive and accessible format, and find that this kind of experience will have an outstanding impact on individuals in need of medically assisted recovery services.”

UNH’s Project ECHO Hub is the first ECHO program in the world to incorporate nurse practitioner students in its training. Upon graduation they will leave UNH with the knowledge, skills and licensure to provide substance use disorder treatment and prescribe alternative medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

“The need for substance use disorder treatment in New Hampshire is staggering,” says Jeanne Ryer, Director of the New Hampshire Citizens Health Initiative. “Through our collaborative efforts with UNH’s high quality nursing program, we are thrilled to have the ability to include students in this important training initiative.”

The UNH ECHO program will welcome 20 nurse practitioner students in the June cohort and expects to train a total of 50 throughout the upcoming year of programming. 

Are you interested in participating in UNH’s Project ECHO? Email them at unhprojectecho@unh.edu.