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 Ending the opioid crisis: TCU's Fellowship Program trains nurse anesthetists to treat chronic pain from a holistic approach.

Fellowship Program Trains Nurse Anesthetists to Treat Chronic Pain

April 1, 2019

At TCU, nurse anesthetists with expertise in pain treatment are teaching colleagues to help patients with chronic pain reduce or transition away from opioids, or — better yet — to manage their pain without opioids in the first place.

(This story by Jenny Blair originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of TCU Magazine.)

In the small eastern Nebraska town of Albion, nurse anesthetist Steve Wooden practices as an independent pain specialist. Wooden has more than 35 years of experience in his profession, much of it spent traveling around the state’s rural areas to bring relief to patients with chronic pain.

Recently, many people who come to Wooden’s office are using prescription opioids for pain — and they are near-desperate to find another source of relief.

“Opioids have put them in a position where they have to battle with their primary care physician because they’re no longer effective,” Wooden said of his patients. “So instead of getting an additional prescription or modification, they may go out on the street and look for alternatives.”

At TCU, nurse anesthetists with expertise in pain treatment, including Wooden, are teaching colleagues to help patients with chronic pain reduce or transition away from opioids, or — better yet — to manage their pain without opioids in the first place.

The Advanced Pain Management Fellowship at the School of Nurse Anesthesia in the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences is one of two accredited chronic pain management fellowships in the U.S. for certified registered nurse anesthetists. The fellowship program requires hands-on clinical experiences during training.

Read more in TCU Magazine.