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Charting New Frontiers: A Round-up of the NIATx in New Places Series

By Maureen Fitzgerald, Communications Manager, Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC

In 2023, the NIATx in New Places series shared the stories of how the NIATx process improvement model continues to shape transformation in both familiar and uncharted territories. From clinical treatment to school settings, prevention, criminal justice, and beyond, NIATx remains a tool for change in the health and human service landscape.

Headshot of Mat Roosa

Here’s a quick recap of the 2023 NIATx in New Places posts:

February: NIATx in New Places, MAT Roosa, LCSW, NIATx Coach

NIATx coach and founding member Mat Roosa introduced the series with this post, highlighting the model's adaptability and enduring impact. Mat also shares his first walk-through experience and reflects on how NIATx has shared his career path.

Headshot of Alfredo Cerrato

March: Building Cultural Intelligence and Health Equity, Alfredo Cerrato, Senior Cultural and Workforce Development Officer, Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC

In this post, Alfredo describes how the NIATx approach can help a team identify and remove access barriers for underserved communities. Integrating NIATx with the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care further enhances its effectiveness and offers a systematic approach to promoting equity in behavioral health services.  

Headshot of Jay Ford, PhD

April 2023: Research and Innovation in Professional Coaching with NIATx, Dr. Jay Ford, UW–Madison School of Pharmacy

Dr. Jay Ford is an associate professor at UW–Madison and a member of the team that launched NIATx in 2023. His current research on coaching, substance use treatment, HIV, and medication utilization in nursing homes showcases the NIATx model's adaptability and effectiveness.

Headshot of Sarah McMinn

May: Building Capacity for Effective School-Based Suicide Prevention, Sarah McMinn & Maureen Fitzgerald

Sarah McMinn, LCSW, leads the Great Lakes MHTTC School-Based Mental Health Supplement and has used the NIATx model to address gaps in schools’ suicide prevention policies. In this post, she describes how the NIATx approach was adapted to school settings, offering a simple framework for educators to implement small, measurable changes efficiently.

Headshot of Scott Gatzke

June: Bringing the NIATx Change Leader Academy to HealtheKnowledge,  Scott Gatzke & Maureen Fitzgerald

Scott Gatzke, Director of Dissemination for the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies and NIATx coach, helped to develop the NIATx Change Leader Academy (CLA) to meet the growing demand for NIATx training. Over the past two decades, NIATx CLAs have extended the model's reach to diverse areas nationwide. Continuing to adapt the CLA to meet changing needs, Scott describes a new project in development: an online version of the CLA that will be available on HealtheKnowledge.

headshot of Lynn Madden

July: The International Impact of the NIATx Model: Ukrainian healthcare providers increase access to treatment during war, Lynn Madden, PhD, MPA, and Kristina Spannbauer, Communications Specialist for Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC,

Dr. Lynn Madden reflects on the impact of NIATx since her organization’s involvement in 2003 and shares the international success of a NIATx project in Ukraine. Collaborative efforts to address opioid use disorders have increased the number of patients receiving treatment in Ukraine significantly. Dr. Madden’s journey with NIATx, from participating in the first demonstration grant to global collaborations, emphasizes the transformative nature of NIATx in improving healthcare access and outcomes.

Headshot of Jessica Vechinski

August: Implementing MOUD Programming in Criminal Justice Settings, Jessica Vechinski, MSW, and Kristina Spannbauer, MA, Communications Specialist for Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC

Jessica Vechinski is the program manager for the implementation arm of the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network JCOIN, a research project managed by the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies. Over three years, 50 sites in 14 states participated in the study, using NIATx coaching to improve the use of medications for opioid use disorder in jails. The study found that NIATx coaching helped uncover and address barriers to implementing MOUD in criminal justice settings.

Headshot of Kris Kelly

September: Empowering Teams in Recovery Community Organizations with NIATx, Kris Kelly, PR CoE and Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC Project Manager and Maureen Fitzgerald Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and Communications Manager

In this Recovery Month 2023 post, recovery advocate Kris Kelly highlights the NIATx model’s potential for supporting recovery community organizations (RCOs). Emphasizing NIATx as a tool for empowerment, Kris notes that NIATx gets teams involved in a participatory process. She also envisions the potential impact for NIATx in continuous improvement in RCO initiatives. 

Headshot of Erin Flicker

October: Insights on Using NIATx in Prevention, Erin Ficker, Prevention Manager Great Lakes PTTC, and Maureen Fitzgerald, Communications Manager, Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC  

Erin Ficker, a prevention manager with 18 years of experience, teamed up with NIATx coach Scott Gatzke to conduct NIATx Change Leader Academies (CLAs) for prevention professionals. In this post, she describes how they adapted NIATx principles to resonate with the prevention audience, emphasizing customer/participant involvement and reframing prevention work as processes. Erin highlights the PDSA Cycle, one of the essential NIATx tools, as an effective strategy for making gradual improvements in prevention efforts.

Headshot of Mat Roosa

November: Recruitment, Hiring, Retention, and Promotion (RHRP), Mat Roosa, LCSW

In this post, Mat describes how the critical need to address understaffing and low worker retention inspired new application of the NIATx tools to understand and improve each aspect of the workforce process: recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion. This focused, data-driven approach aims to make a meaningful impact on behavioral health workforce challenges.

Headshot of David Gustafson

December: The Intersection of Behavioral Health and Systems Engineering: A Conversation with David H. Gustafson, David H. Gustafson, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, & Maureen Fitzgerald, Communications Manager, Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC  

NIATx founder David H. Gustafson reflects on the enduring impact of the NIATx model, emphasizing its simplicity, focus on key aims, and the power of storytelling. Key factors in NIATx staying power include support from organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and SAMHSA, ongoing research, and the NIATx Change Leader Academy. Dave also talks about using NIATx in his current research and in exploring the role of technology, including AI, in addiction treatment.  

Enduring innovation

The stories shared in the NIATx in New Places Series underscore not only the adaptability and enduring impact of the NIATx model, but also the commitment of individuals across various fields to drive positive change. As we embark on the new year, these stories remind us that with the right tools and a shared vision, we can continue to shape and improve the human service landscape.

Here’s to the resilience, innovation, and team spirit that define the NIATx journey!  

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The opinions expressed herein are the views of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), SAMHSA, CSAT or the ATTC Network. No official support or endorsement of DHHS, SAMHSA, or CSAT for the opinions of authors presented in this e-publication is intended or should be inferred.