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NIH grant to increase mental health-prepared providers in underrepresented areas


A new program will focus on increasing the number of nurses and medical doctors from Michigan’s underrepresented communities trained in substance use disorders through leading-edge research and clinical activities.

The initiative, “Increasing Minority Physician and APRN Clinician Scientist Research Training to Equalize Addiction Medicine (IMPACT TEAM),” is led by researchers with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Nursing. A five-year, $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant will fund the project.

“This unique program will help build a pipeline of clinician-scientists ready to address the addiction crisis in Michigan and beyond,” said Dr. Cara Poland, an associate professor in the College of Human Medicine and a multi-principal invesigator on the study. “By learning the science of addiction early in their careers and coupling this with mentored research projects, my colleague and I hope to expand the substance use disorder and other mental health physician and nursing workforce to more equitably mirror the populations MSU serves across the state of Michigan.”

The number of annual opioid-related deaths in Michigan rose more than 19 percent from 2019 to 2022, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Dawn Goldstein, a multi-principal investigator on the study, said the team is trying to combat those trends through increasing diversity, ensuring equity, promoting inclusion, and enhancing outreach and engagement.

“Mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) are increasingly prevalent issues throughout the state,” said Goldstein, an assistant professor and director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program in the College of Nursing. “This effort will promote a pipeline of advanced practice registered nurses and physician clinician-scientists from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds who will be poised to be leaders in the areas of SUD and addiction medicine.”

The program will focus on three key areas: 

1.   Recruiting members of underrepresented groups using multiple strategies and existing Michigan State University initiatives to participate in mentored research

2.   Refining and delivering interprofessional, evidence-based and stigma- reducing addiction curriculum for students

3.   Recruiting a subset of students engaged in training to participate in interprofessional research collaborations geared toward launching a research career

Poland and Goldstein will leverage existing university resources and collaborations to create a robust mentor group consisting of accomplished NIH-funded researchers from many backgrounds to support students through early pre-professional research.

These mentors will support students in exploring substance use disorder through research. A student’s project may include written and oral presentations to local, state, or regional conferences, journals, or other academic dissemination.