BOONE, N.C. — An interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff at Appalachian State University has received $65,552 in continued funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the third consecutive year of Appalachian’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) student training program. These funds are part of the SBIRT Health Professions Student Training Grant awarded to Appalachian’s Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS) in October 2015.
The team members are Annette Ward, lecturer in Appalachian’s Department of Social Work; Carol Cook, faculty lecturer in Appalachian’s Department of Health and Exercise Science; Heather Thorp, senior lecturer and field director in Appalachian’s Department of Social Work; Dr. Gary McCullough, professor in Appalachian’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and associate dean of research and graduate education in the university’s BCHS; and Amie Jo Platt ’03, university program specialist in the university’s Department of Social Work.
According to Ward, SBIRT is an integrated public health evidence-based practice (EBP) that provides universal screening and assesses the risk of substance use disorders and moderate-to-high use of substances in patients and/or clients. SBIRT is used in various health care and social service settings as an early intervention practice.
“SBIRT providers seek to decrease risky usage before a person becomes dependent to minimize risk of injury or death; reduce interpersonal, work or school interference; and to lower costs of medical treatment resulting from hazardous substance use. Early intervention with SBIRT saves lives and money, and is consistent with overall support for patient and/or client wellness,” she said.
In her commentary on the program, Ward said students in the program receive over 15 hours of training in knowledge, skills and implementation of SBIRT. They learn from a variety of formats, including online work, face to face and role-playing, and direct use of SBIRT with patients or clients in their field or practicum sites.
Currently, three departments at Appalachian have integrated SBIRT into their curriculum: Nursing, Social Work, and Health and Exercise Science.
“Although students are the primary focus for this training,” said Ward, “faculty, field instructors, preceptors, and health care and social service provider agencies are also participating in SBIRT training to supervise SBIRT students and to use this intervention with their clients and patients for overall improved health in the community.”
Nora Claire Kunzmann ’15 ’17, who earned a Master of Social Work from Appalachian in 2017 and is a native of Fuquay-Varina, and Jordan Brown, a graduate student in Appalachian’s social work program from Randleman, worked with the team of faculty and staff to develop the training program.
Additionally, Appalachian alumni Natalie Blackwelder ’17, a native of Greensboro; Josh Upchurch ’17, of Clemmons; and Joe Wrenn ’17, of Greensboro, also contributed to the development of the training program. Blackwelder earned her Master of Social Work from Appalachian in 2017, while both Upchurch and Wrenn graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Social Work.
About the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
About the Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian's Beaver College of Health Sciences opened in 2010 as the result of a strategic university commitment to significantly enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in North Carolina and beyond. In 2015, the college was named for an Appalachian alumnus and pioneer in the health care industry — Donald C. Beaver ’62 ’64 of Conover. The college offers 10 undergraduate degree programs and six graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Communication Sciences and Disorders; Health and Exercise Science; Nursing; Nutrition and Health Care Management; Recreation Management and Physical Education; and Social Work. Learn more at https://healthsciences.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.