UConn is now a Center of Excellence in Pain Education, as designated by the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH Pain Consortium, which is tasked with developing an agenda for, identifying key opportunities in, and increasing the visibility of pain research, has awarded funding to 11 health professional institutions as Centers of Excellence in Pain Education. UConn and Harvard are the only ones in New England.
“This topic is very important for medical education and for our interprofessional partners in health education,” says Dr. Suzanne Rose, UConn School of Medicine senior associate dean for education. “Being a Center of Excellence in this area is an outstanding accomplishment and will provide many opportunities for our learners and benefits our patients.”
The 11 centers are to serve as hubs for the development, evaluation and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other schools. The objective is to enhance and improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.
The principal investigator for the UConn is Renee Manworren, nurse scientist, assistant professor of pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine, and assistant professor at the UConn School of Nursing.
“Over 100 million Americans suffer everyday with pain; and our current prescription pain medication abuse epidemic is an unintended consequence of poorly coordinated efforts to treat their pain,” Manworren says. “We’ve known for a long time that the best treatment approach for relieving pain is multimodal and multidisciplinary; but we’ve been training our health care professionals in separate schools.
“In recent years we’ve shifted our thinking: We should be providing interprofessional training—engaging and educating medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, psychiatry and physical therapy students—as a team so we can do a better job partnering with patients to manage their pain and build our pain research expertise.”
Manworren, a nurse practitioner who also holds a doctorate in clinical research, is part of the UConn School of Nursing’s Center for Advancement in Managing Pain and a member of a medical school curriculum redesign task force that focuses on interprofessional education.
“We’ve leveraged the redesign of our curriculum to offer training in new, better, and interactive ways to educate future physicians coming from UConn,” Manworren says.
The initial NIH award to UConn is nearly $78,000, with the potential for up to four annual renewals.
“We are committed to developing and testing interprofessional pain educational methods and modules that will lead to better pain management education across the nation and ultimately, better patient outcomes,” Manworren says.