Interprofessional Education

OU’s Interprofessional Education Workshop spotlights mental health, substance use disorders

icon of a calendarFebruary 21, 2022

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OU’s Interprofessional Education Workshop spotlights mental health, substance use disorders
Interprofessional Education Workshop

Oakland University recently held its 6th annual Interprofessional Education Workshop, which brought together 340 students, faculty and community leaders from various health professions, including nursing, physical therapy, medicine, physician assistant, public health and social work. This year’s workshop focused on mental illness and substance use disorders, complex conditions that often coexist and require interprofessional collaboration to manage properly. 

Interprofessional Education Workshop

OU social work instructor Megan Widman served as a faculty facilitator at this year's Interprofessional Education Conference.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that about half of individuals who experience a substance use disorder will also experience a co-occurring mental disorder, and vice versa.

“These types of cases clearly demonstrate the need for interprofessional education,” said Deb Doherty, associate professor and chair of the Human Movement Science Department and the Interprofessional Education Task Force at OU. “Bringing together current and future health professionals of various roles and specialties to learn about, from and with each other helps build the connections that will translate into better health outcomes for patients and their families.”

This year’s event was keynoted by Dr. Jeffrey Guina, chief medical officer at Easterseals Michigan and a licensed physician who is board-certified in psychiatry, addiction medicine, forensic psychiatry and community psychiatry. Dr. Guina provided an overview of opioids, highly addictive substances that include Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco) Methadone, Fentanyl and Heroin. These drugs stimulate the “reward center” of the brain, overriding users’ ability to control behaviors that interfere with family, work, school and other responsibilities.

“Opioids are incredibly powerful. Anything that stimulates the reward center can cause dependence,” said Dr. Guina, who is also an adjunct associate professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and director of the psychiatry residency program at Beaumont Health.

Interprofessional Education Workshop

Dr. Jeffrey Guina, chief medical officer at Easterseals Michigan, was the keynote speaker at this year's conference.

He added that individuals often engage in addictive behaviors – including substance use, binge eating and excessive screen time – in order to cope with underlying mental health issues and that the coronavirus pandemic has made matters worse.

“We know that pre-COVID about one out of five people were dealing with a mental health condition at any given time in the U.S. That has doubled during COVID,” said Dr. Guina. “We’ve seen skyrocketing rates of overdoses, suicides, calls to hotlines, EMS services and emergency rooms. It’s been a very stressful time for people who have a preexisting mental health condition, as well as those who didn’t have one before.”

There are various options for addressing substance use disorders, including withdrawal (going “cold turkey”), opioid replacement, symptomatic medications and psychosocial therapies. Dr.  Guina called opioid replacement the “gold standard” for helping patients achieve long-term recovery and recommended a comprehensive treatment approach that integrates supportive services such as therapy, peer support, lifestyle intervention and coping skills training.

“Any one of these things alone is a piece of the puzzle, but only a piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It has to be done in combination to have the highest rate of success.” 

Interprofessional Education Workshop

Panel discussion participants, top row from left: Stephen Loftus, Kelsey Schell and Wendy Standifer; bottom row from left: Melodie Kondratek, Teresa Chahine and Rebecca Clemans.  

Following the keynote address, students gathered in small interprofessional groups to discuss a case study of a patient dealing with mental health and substance use disorders. Each group was led by a faculty facilitator and a student facilitator who helped guide the discussion.

Later, the case study was discussed by a panel of health professionals who highlighted multi-disciplinary intervention options to optimize care while limiting the use of opioids. The panel was moderated by Stephen Loftus, Ph.D., OUWB associate professor of medical education and included five health professionals: Kelsey Schell, MPH, Wendy Standifer, MA, LPC, NCC, Melodie Kondratek, PT, DScPT, Rebecca Clemans, M.D. and Teresa Chahine, MSN, RN, PMHNP. 

Here’s what students had to say about this year’s interprofessional Education Workshop:

“Every discipline has some sort of limitation, and to better care for the patient we have to interact with other disciplines and respect their opinions as well. To care for a patient holistically, we have to communicate with the team that is caring for the patient to better assist them with the issues they have. As health care professionals, we see so many different types of patients on a daily basis and having an open mind can help us and help the patients that we take care of.”

-Sabbir Ahmed, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, School of Nursing

“There’s no denying the fact that interprofessional teams are needed to work together to provide the best possible care in order to achieve positive patient outcomes. One of the things we discussed is, is the system set up enough to help with coordinated care, so that patients have access to all the resources they need without being labeled as pain medication-seeking.  We all agreed that there’s no shame in getting help. Communication is very important when dealing with mental health patients and we need certain communication techniques in order to deal with such patients because this is an extremely sensitive topic.”

-Arlene Beyeh, Master of Public Health, School of Health Sciences

“Sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re trying to do and our goals for the patient, and we need to take a step back and talk to our interprofessional peers. We talked about how institutions can make it easier for us to communicate with each other. Hospitals and legislators sometimes make it difficult to communicate, or we can only communicate to certain team members. We discussed the importance of treating with humility, treating the patient as a person, and looking at all the barriers they’re going to face after we see them and preparing them the best way we can.”

-Brandt Cassidy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences

“We talked a lot about how stigma can play a role in making the communication of mental health very difficult. Sometimes there may not be a cultural concept of mental health. We looked at how to communicate the concept of mental health across a cultural boundary that exists. Everyone in these care teams has a different level of intimacy with the patient; some people are more involved with coordination and management and some people have very direct contact with the patient on a regular basis. Building trust and rapport between these health teams is really important in managing all the different issues that are involved with a complex patient.”

-Lance Jones, Medical Student, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

“When we’re dealing with problems of such complexity it’s important to recognize that we can’t cover all of the ground necessary within the scope of just our own practice, so we should rely on the expertise of others to develop proper interventions for our clients. Also, we know the impacts of substance use disorder stretch beyond our individual patient, so it is important that we treat the patient holistically and understand that we need to focus on everyone within the patient’s circle, as well as advocate for policies that can treat substance use disorder on a macroscale.”

-Sean Mason, Bachelor of Social Work, College of Arts and Sciences


After the workshop, a virtual naloxone training was provided by the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities. Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses. Those who attended the training were taught how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and safely administer an intranasal naloxone dose. In addition, Dr. Melodie Kondratek led a presentation on Mental Health First Aid, a national program that teaches the skills to respond to signs of mental illness and substance use.

This year’s workshop was organized by the Oakland University Interprofessional Education Task Force, which consists of faculty from the School of Health Sciences (Masters of Public Health, Physician Assistant, and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs), School of Nursing, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences (Social Work Program). Funding and support for the workshop were provided by the School of Health Sciences and Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

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