Fighting the substance abuse epidemic in Maine: Future UNE health professionals receive expert training

Hundreds of UNE students are trained to screen for substance abuse
Hundreds of UNE students are trained to screen for substance abuse

December 13, 2016

On December 9, more than 300 students and faculty from the University of New England Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Pharmacy, College of Dental Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine received special training to identify substance use disorders.

The students and faculty heard a presentation from Eric Haram, former director of behavioral health services for Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. During his time at Mid Coast, Haram helped expand access to treatment for substance abuse and misuse disorders, contributing to an extremely low overdose death rate in the Bath/Brunswick region in 2015 at a time when overdoses rates were rising statewide.

Haram trained participants from UNE in a specific method to identify substance use issues known as SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment). UNE recently received a three-year grant for SBIRT training from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide the training. The first of its kind to be awarded in Maine, the grant utilizes a team-based approach to the development and implementation of training programs to teach UNE students across 8 health professions (nursing, osteopathic medicine, social work, dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistant, occupational therapy and dental hygiene) the skills necessary to screen, intervene and refer patients to treatment who are at risk for a substance use disorder.

“SBIRT training for all our health professions ensures that UNE’s future providers will be prepared to recognize and refer people at risk for or currently experiencing substance abuse disorders to appropriate resources, including treatment,” said Shelley Cohen Konrad, director of the UNE Interprofessional Education Collaborative and UNE School of Social Work. “These are skills that are critically important given the increasing numbers of individuals struggling with addictions in Maine and across the nation.”

To learn more about the University of New England’s Interprofessional Education Collaborative visit

To apply, visit

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