Improving training for medical school students about treating pain is needed.
Dr. Dan Bennett, Chairman of the National Pain Foundation, believes that doctors understanding the cause of pain should be aggressively taught in school
He was responding to a news story that four medical schools in Massachusetts are teaming up to improve training for doctors in pain management with the goal of curbing over-prescription of opioid medications.
“While it is wise to ensure that medical students understand the vagaries of prescribing narcotic pain medications, this can only be accomplished successfully if one starts by educating these students in the complexities of pain itself,” Dr. Bennett told the National Pain Report.
The deans of Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, Tufts School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts Medical School discussed the efforts with Governor Charlie Baker last week.
According to an AP story, the schools say they’ll work together to review current curricula for medical students on safe prescribing.
“I applaud the efforts of Governor Baker,” said Dr. Bennett. “I hope the academicians charged with this task appreciate the much broader problem–the lack of education of the physician regarding pain and its related disease.”
Dr. Bennett is also a practicing interventional spine/pain medicine physician from Denver, Colorado. He believes focusing only on the prescription drug issue is short sighted.
“Any treatment without the understanding of the disease itself and in whom that disease resides is bad medicine. The putting the cart before the horse is what has led to the serious problem of narcotic over-prescribing in the United States.”
The National Pain Foundation has launched the Global Pain Initiative specifically for the purpose of understanding pain and the effects the disease has on populations of people. As the effort gathers data, the plan is to drive the conversation to establish a formal residency in pain.
Bennett has been pressing the case for several years for more educational opportunities about pain in medical school.
“How doctors understand pain and the disease of pain is the lattice needed to determine what treatment is necessary,” he added.