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Implementation and evaluation of a telehealth opioid use disorder clinical placement for nurse practitioner students

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Every day, thousands more people experience un- treated opioid use disorder (OUD) and its impacts.

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Published on May 8, 2024

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This white paper represents the views of the author, not America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). The publication, distribution or posting of this white paper by AHIP does not constitute a guaranty of any product or service by AHIP.


In 2021, approximately 100,000 Americans died of drug overdose, most of which involved opioids (Mattson et al.,2021). Every day, thousands more people experience un-treated opioid use disorder (OUD) and its impacts, including injection-related complications like HIV and hepatitis C (Larney & Hall, 2019). Medications for opioid use disorder The lack of clinicians comfortable prescribing buprenorphine is a barrier to access for people with opioid use disorder (OUD). Accordingly, a telehealth OUD treatment clinic, Ophelia, launched a clinical training program for nurse practitioner (NP) students. The goal of this study was to assess a telehealth-based model of OUD clinical training. To evaluate the program, we (1) identified students’ knowledge related to providing OUD care to patients before and after their clinical rotation with Ophelia and (2) characterized students’ attitudes about providing OUD care following their clinical rotation with Ophelia. Online pre- and postsurveys were conducted with 57 and 29 students, respectively, and semistructured interviews were conducted with 19 students who completed clinical rotations with Ophelia. We used quantitative de- scriptive analysis to compare presurvey and postsurvey results and conducted thematic analysis to analyze qualitative interview data. We identified three themes from the interviews: the continuum of learning opportunities, the comfort providing OUD treatment following participants’ clinical rotation, and the relevance of a substance use disorder clinical rotation for all NP students. The survey also supported these findings. Of note, there were descriptive differences between presurvey and postsurvey responses related to an increase in knowledge, preparedness, and acquisition of skills to treat OUD. Using a telehealth clinical rotation for NP students to learn about OUD treatment may represent an important step in increasing the number of clinicians who can prescribe buprenorphine. These findings can inform interventions and policies that target clinician training barriers.