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UB's Addiction Medicine Fellowship One of First 10 Accredited by American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation

By Lois Baker

Release Date: May 9, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An addiction medicine fellowship developed by University at Buffalo's Department of Family Medicine is one of the nation's first 10 postgraduate addiction medicine residencies accredited by the American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation.

Richard Blondell, MD, UB professor in the Department of Family Medicine, director of the addiction residency and chair of the foundation's Training and Accreditation Committee, said of the residency: "Accrediting these and future training programs will provide assurance to the American public that addiction medicine physicians have the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and treat addiction."

The accredited residency will begin July 1.

The new training program in addiction medicine has been established at a time of increasing promise for addiction treatment, and increased need for trained treatment providers, the foundation noted.

Kevin Kunz, MD, foundation president, said physician specialists in addiction medicine will bring unique skills and competencies to the treatment team, using all appropriate treatment approaches to contribute to prevention and the care of individuals and families.

Currently there are no addiction medicine residencies among the 8,890 American Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency programs in the nation's hospitals.

The addiction medicine residency accreditation process is modeled on residencies in other fields, such as cardiology and sleep medicine, Blondell said. These one- or two-year programs, which have a 12-month core educational component, will include rotations through inpatient and outpatient settings, with electives to round out residents' training.

"Someone coming in with a pediatric background may want to do an elective in taking care of adults, while an internist might want three months in psychiatry," Blondell said.

Inpatient rotations may include a hospital-based rehabilitation program or medically managed residential program, while outpatient rotations may involve addiction medicine consult services or opioid replacement or maintenance programs.

"One-quarter of the program requirements will be determined by the program director, depending on the resources of the community," Blondell noted. "One medical school might have a really good addiction medicine consultation service that the residents can be assigned to, while in another city, a resident may have to rotate through several services, such as psychiatry and pain management, to get a similar experience."

The impact of the program is expected to be felt as soon as July 2012, when the first graduates, who already have completed the first-year requirements, finish the program.

"There will begin to be a real formal identity to the specialty," Blondell says, "and from that will flow changes in practice patterns, education and the public's perception of addiction as a medical problem.

"Addiction to prescription drugs has become a widespread problem among patients of all ages, and as a result, the need for more specialists to treat these patients has grown. We hope that these residencies allow more people who suffer with addiction to get the help they need."

In addition to the UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences residency, the following universities were accredited to provide addiction medicine residencies: Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Mass.; Geisinger Health System, Waverly, Pa.; St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals, New York, N.Y.; University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Fla.; University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii; University of Cincinnati College of Medicine -- VA Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, Md.; University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minn.; and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.