Kim Dion Leads Federal Grant to Expand Training for Substance Use Disorder Management and Education

Kim Dion
Kim Dion

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded the College of Nursing (CON) a two-year grant to expand education and treatment strategies to the college, in their ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

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.

During the past ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has not slowed but may actually have gotten worse. Researchers at the College of Nursing are training undergraduate student nurses in current education and practice competencies to ameliorate the effects of substance use disorders (SUD). This includes developing and implementing training opportunities for student nurses in screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT); harm reduction, anti-stigma and identifying persons at risk for SUD; reducing stigma among student nurses and improving their comfort level working with persons with SUD; and increasing the use of these skills six months after the initial training.

Kim Dion, clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing, is principal investigator (PI) on the grant and leads the Substance Abuse Management and Education (SAME) project. She will implement the training curriculum in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team from CON, the Center for Health Promotion and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Over the two-year period they plan to train 300 undergraduate pre-licensure students.

“We see this as a way to provide student nurses with the ability to incorporate early identification, harm reduction education and to meet the person with substance use disorder where they are at in their addiction trajectory. We hope to spark a culture change by increasing understanding and compassion for people in the midst of their struggle with substances”, said Dion. “We believe that providing health care providers with the tools to care for people with substance use disorder will increase therapeutic commitment and promote the nurse/patient relationship.”

This work continues a legacy of work dating nearly 15 years ago when SAMHSA funded the university’s Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS), which is a national model of best practices in alcohol intervention programs. This was followed by an SBIRT training grant to develop a program at the College of Nursing. This same team continues this tradition of providing students with cutting-edge services and training opportunities.

For more information about SAMHSA, visit