January 2018

ATTC Network and AMERSA Announce New Partnership

Promoting interprofessional collaboration to reduce the impact of substance use disorders

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office

The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network has been working since 1993 to improve the clinical practices used to treat substance use disorders (SUDs). Through national and regional technical assistance and training efforts, the Network promotes the implementation of evidence-based and promising practices in SUD treatment and recovery services.

The Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), founded in 1976, carries a similar mission: “to improve health and well-being through interdisciplinary leadership in substance use education, research, clinical care and policy.”

In 2018, the ATTC Network and AMERSA are collaborating on the ATTC grant, with a shared goal to promote interprofessional collaboration in addressing and reducing the impact of substance use disorders.  

What is AMERSA?

“AMERSA is a small, multidisciplinary organization that packs a big punch,” says AMERSA President Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital.

The non-profit organization is largely self-funded through membership dues, conference fees, and an annual auction. SAMHSA and other organizations have provided funding throughout the years, and The National Institutes of Health also provides support for the annual conference.

AMERSA's mission is to improve health and well-being through interdisciplinary leadership in substance use education, research, clinical care, and policy.

AMERSA’s membership includes professionals in many health domains: primary care, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, social work, and psychology, to name a few. Members represent a professional continuum ranging from students to researchers, clinic directors, and policy makers, all united by AMERSA’s mission to improve SUD treatment and recovery services.

In addition to representing many disciplines, AMERSA also includes members from different specialties and a wide variety of clinical interests. For example, Levy, a pediatrician, points out that the organization boasts a special youth interest group focused on pediatrics and prevention.

“AMERSA members appreciate the impact of substance use disorders on overall health throughout the lifespan,” says Levy. “We have a broad interest in the wide spectrum of substance use problems and disorders, from at-risk alcohol use to addiction. We’ve been very engaged in thinking about the current opioid crisis and recognize that we need a big picture vision.”

A significant benefit of AMERSA membership is the mentoring that is available to those new to the field.

“Historically it has been hard to get good mentorship in this field,” says Levy. “AMERSA was so important early in my career, as there were not many pediatricians focused on substance use disorder prevention and treatment,” she adds. “Through AMERSA, I could always find like-minded colleagues who offered the mentorship and encouragement that kept me in this career.” Over the past four decades, AMERSA has made significant contributions to the field, such as a faculty development program, curricula and mentorship for the Provider Clinical Support Systems (PCSS) projects, and leadership for many educational and training programs.

Read more about AMERSA’s Impact.

AMERSA publications

AMERSA publishes Substance Abuse Journal, one of the most highly ranked peer-reviewed journals in the substance abuse and social science categories. The quarterly journal embodies AMERSA’s multidisciplinary focus, featuring articles written by leading investigators in addiction treatment, homelessness, cannabis, HIV infection, pharmacy, and social work, to name a few.

Each year, the SAj publishes an issue on a special topic; in 2018, look for an issue dedicated to Implementation and Quality Improvement: Applying and Advancing Best Practices in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment. Journal articles are available for reading online, and readers can also get updates on publications by signing up for monthly journal updates or following the SAJ blog,
Twitter, and Facebook.

Core competencies for treating SUD

AMERSA’s focus on training all health care professionals on substance use disorders led to the development of a set of core competencies, published in 2002 in the Strategic Plan for Interdisciplinary Faculty Development: Arming the Nation’s Health Professional Workforce for a New Approach to Substance Use Disorders. The AMERSA core competencies have helped inform health care integration efforts across the country.

AMERSA annual conference

A major activity for AMERSA is its annual conference, which attracts a diverse group of attendees along with leaders from NIH, SAMSHA, the Office on National Drug Control Policy and other government agencies.

“We look forward to participating in AMERSA’s conference in 2018 and beyond,” says Holly Hagle, Co-Director for the ATTC Network Coordinating Office. “With our combined resources and expertise, we can increase awareness of the need for all health care professionals to build the knowledge and skills needed to identify and treat substance use disorders effectively.” 

The 2018 conference is scheduled for November 8-10 and will take place at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco.

“When I wrote the most recent NIH grant for support for AMERSA’s conference, one of the things that stood out for me was the numbers of leaders in the field who participate in AMERSA,” says Levy. “Our conference gets high ratings every year because of the number of experts we bring in who give talks on state-of-the art research and clinical implementation.”

View the brochure for 2017 AMERSA Conference, “AMERSA at 41: Reducing the Societal Impact of Alcohol and Drugs.”

Promoting interprofessional collaboration

The ATTC Network will present a workshop and will also be an exhibitor at the 2018 AMERSA conference. 

“We look forward to participating in AMERSA’s conference in 2018 and beyond,” says Holly Hagle, Co-Director for the ATTC Network Coordinating Office. “With our combined resources and expertise, we can increase awareness of the need for all health care professionals to build the knowledge and skills needed to identify and treat substance use disorders effectively.”