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Students Certified as Substance Use Disorder Specialists

Students Certified as Substance Use Disorder Specialists

D’Youville program offers free course through federal grant

Buffalo, New York – October 2, 2020 – Western New York has 15 new certified professionals to help combat the opiate crisis, as D’Youville graduated its first class of Substance Use Disorder Specialists (SUDS) last week.

D’Youville offers an eight-week certificate program, in partnership with Horizon Health Services, to train new and existing behavioral-health paraprofessionals to be proficient in supporting substance use disorder treatment as part of an integrated and interprofessional care team. Thanks to a $680,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Opioid Workforce Expansion Program, the course is free of charge.

The inaugural class used a combination of self-paced online modules and live trainings via Zoom to complete the training and held a Zoom “graduation” on September 26. The students learned the core skills of effective interprofessional practice and communication, cultural competence, professional accountability, support skills for patients and families, and patient safety.

“The participants’ enhanced clinical judgment and reasoning will prepare them to work in a community health setting with medically underserved populations,” said Patricia Abbott, PhD, newly named director of the SUDS program and chair of social sciences at D’Youville. “Additionally, students are linked with job-placement resources so they can find employment in high-need areas of Western New York.”

“Graduates from this program can be part of countywide efforts to address opioid use in a professional, clinical role,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “We appreciate D’Youville’s work to establish this innovative program and to add to our region’s capacity to fill crucial openings in behavioral health and healthcare settings.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The opioid crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic making the need for this program even greater. We are seeing an immediate return on this federal investment with 15 new certified Substance Use Disorder Specialists prepared to better treat addiction. We commend D’Youville and Horizon Health Services for teaming up to provide this program as well as the healthcare professionals who sought out this opportunity to grow in their understanding of the best tools to help those struggling.”

The next eight-week SUDS program will launch on January 4, 2021. Applications are now being accepted, with a deadline of December 14. The free training is appropriate for current healthcare professionals, people who wish to transition to work in the field of substance use disorders, or those who wish to launch a career in the field.

More information is available at the SUD Support Specialist certificate webpage or by emailing Additional workforce development courses for healthcare careers, including pharmacy technician and community health worker, will launch soon through D’Youville’s Pathways Program at the new Health Professions Hub, which is set to open in late December. 

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