Addiction, Treatment and Recovery
Betty Ford Center Receives Major Gift To Fund Groundbreaking Medical Education Initiative
Tags: Medical Education Initiative NIDA Scaife Family Foundation SIMS
Betty Ford Center, the licensed addiction hospital co-founded 30 years ago by former First Lady Betty Ford, announced today the receipt of a generous grant that will enable it to significantly expand its efforts to educate the nation’s healthcare professionals – especially medical doctors – on the disease of addiction, the treatment process, and the promise of recovery.
The Scaife Family Foundation, headquartered in Palm Beach, Florida, is awarding $1.2 million toward the Medical Education Initiative. Additionally, the Foundation is awarding $100,000 to the Summer Institute for Medical Students (SIMS) and $100,000 to the Center’s unique Children’s Program.
The Scaife Family Foundation is a longtime supporter of efforts to improve the education of medical students and physicians, especially in the area of addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
In announcing the Scaife grant, Foundation Chairman Jennie K. Scaife said, “The Betty Ford Center has long been an advocate and a resource in the field of medical education. We are pleased to support this dramatic expansion of the Center’s efforts in this vitally important area.”
Since 1986, under the SIMS program, nearly 2,000 doctors-to-be from many of the nation’s leading universities have come to the Center for a weeklong immersion experience to learn about addiction, treatment, and recovery.
According to Dr. Mary Pattiz, chairman of the Betty Ford Center’s Board of Directors, the Scaife Family Foundation grant announced today will allow for dramatic expansion of the Center’s education mission – especially where it is most critically needed: teaching medical professionals of the future about the disease of addiction.
“There are about 800,000 licensed physicians in the U.S.,” says Dr. Pattiz. “According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, two-thirds of those physicians lack the knowledge and skills to diagnose and manage addictive disease.”
“There’s an urgent need to educate those half million-plus physicians. And with 15,000 new graduates joining their ranks every year, we have to move fast to educate both current practitioners and their new colleagues.”
Nora Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), recently described the lack of substance-abuse education among general practitioners as “a very serious problem.” She told the New York Times, “It [exposes] a gap in our medical training program.”
The idea of addiction as a chronic disease, she said, has been slow to take hold in medical circles because doctors sometimes struggle to grasp brain function — and addiction is a disease of the brain. “While it’s simple to understand a disease of the heart – the heart is very simple, it’s just a muscle – it’s much more complex to understand the brain,” she told the Times.
According to NIDA, 23 million Americans need substance abuse treatment, but only two million actually receive it.
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