ECU nurses train to help curb opioid epidemic

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – 9 On Your Side continues tracking the opioid epidemic in our state, taking a look at local efforts to combat the growing problem that focuses on the prescribers.

Local physicians say there’s a lot of power in writing prescriptions, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. That’s why new policies from the CDC and universities say a crucial component in curbing the drug problem begins in the classroom.

Last week, nearly 200 nursing schools across the country announced plans to require prescriber education for all students. That’s something ECU has included in its curriculum for years.

Students in the nurse practitioner program use virtual clinics and work hands-on with trained patient actors.

Dr. Michelle Skipper says patients asking for opioids is common.

“Where the patient comes and they’re either out of medicine early or the dog ate my medicine or my purse got stolen or some of the red flag systems that a student… Scenarios that a student would run into that they would get trained for before they ever leave here,” Dr. Skipper said.

The CDC estimates 20% of patients presenting non-cancer pain receive an opioid prescription.

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