USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Ostrow, Keck launch nation’s first distance learning program in pain medicine

Photo by Tracy Boulian and David Antholz

BY HOPE HAMASHIGE

The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has launched the nation’s first online master’s degree program for working medical professionals and non-medical clinicians interested in receiving advanced education in pain medicine.

“Pain, and especially chronic pain, is not well-treated in the United States and throughout the world,” said Steven H. Richeimer, professor of anesthesiology and psychiatry at Keck and co-director of the program on pain medicine. “There is a huge educational need for all clinicians, and we, at Keck and Ostrow, have partnered to try to fill this gap.”

Ostrow Professor Glenn Clark noted that most medical professionals receive, at best, minimal training in pain management and that historically there have been few opportunities for them to receive advanced training.

“Just about any clinician who deals with patients with chronic pain can benefit from this type of training,” said Clark, who serves as co-director of the pain medicine program, alongside Richeimer.

Importance of pain management education

The need for advanced education on pain has become increasingly apparent as the number of opioid-related deaths has risen in recent years. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, opioids killed more than 33,000 — more than any other year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the same time that opioid-related deaths have been on the rise, Richeimer pointed out that more than 25 million Americans continue to suffer from chronic pain.

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health created an action plan for improving pain care in the United States, which pointed out the need for structured curriculum to give professionals advanced training in pain management.

Pursue education while you practice

Courses will be taught by a multidisciplinary group of 20 faculty members representing schools across the university, including Ostrow, Keck, the USC  Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, the USC School of Pharmacy, the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

The distance learning program takes 37 months to complete. Its 24 courses cover a wide range of issues, including pain assessment and classification, psychological aspects of chronic pain, pharmacotherapeutics for pain and public policy and legal issues.

The program is suitable for all licensed clinicians, including physicians, dentists, nurses, psychologists, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

It is meant to allow medical professionals and non-medical clinicians the opportunity to pursue a certificate or master’s degree in pain management while continuing their practice.

In addition to the online master’s degree, a one-year certificate program in pain management is also available.

For more information about the program, visit dentistry.usc.edu/distance-learning.

Posted 09132017