Emergency medicine interest group annual symposium surveys the ongoing opioid epidemic

Emergency medicine interest group annual symposium surveys the ongoing opioid epidemic
Students exercising their hands-on skills during lab simulations (Photo Credit: Hofstra University)

The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Emergency Medicine Interest Group hosted its annual symposium, this year titled, “Evolution of Our Opioid Epidemic: Perspectives in Humanism & Toxicology”, on Saturday, Jan. 27 at the medical school on the Hofstra University campus.


The event brought together nearly 100 attendees, representing more than 10 medical schools from across the local region to discuss the current state of the ongoing opioid crisis, explore each stage from screening to treatment, emphasize the importance of education and advocating, and examine the issue from a variety of different perspectives.


“We felt this was a very important topic for medical students because the opioid epidemic is not only something that we are likely to deal with in our future careers, but it is likely something that many of us will have to deal with in our personal lives as well, as many of us likely have friends and family affected by this tragedy,” explained Liam McDevitt, Class of 2026, and co-chair of the Emergency Medicine Interest Group.


McDevitt hosted the one-day conference with fellow co-chair, Madeline Lane, also from the Class of 2026.


Lane shares a passion with McDevitt for advocacy and education on the opioid epidemic and this is not the first time they are collaborating. Earlier this year, they collaborated on a tabling event during Overdose Awareness Day.


“This year’s symposium invited us to consider the complex and largely stigmatized issue of our opioid epidemic in multiple dimensions, all relevant to the practice of emergency medicine. We hope these voices will empower medical students to continue discussing, investigating, and collaboratively addressing our substance use disorder crisis,” said Lane, a Port Washington native.


This symposium introduced the ongoing opioid epidemic from a multitude of perspectives, starting from the community to the ER. Attendees got to hear from both patient and physician perspectives to provide a comprehensive understanding of this deeply complex topic.


Newer contaminants, such as fentanyl and xylazine, were also addressed at the event. All participants received Narcan training and kits during the day, intending to help to prepare them to step up, recognize, and treat an opioid overdose in the future.


Though the symposium was geared towards students considering a career in emergency medicine, this was a component that would be beneficial to all regardless of specialty interest.


“According to the DEA, “fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered” and xylazine is a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer often mixed with fentanyl and a major contributor to overdose deaths,” explained Dr. Gino Farina, associate dean for Clinical Preparation for Residency and professor of emergency medicine and science education at the Zucker School of Medicine.


Farina is the Emergency Medicine Interest Group faculty advisor and helps oversee the planning of the annual conference. “This topic is important to discuss to raise awareness about the signs, symptoms, and available treatment options.”


Symposium attendees got to hear from two world leaders in substance screening, intervention, and pharmacologic management. Dr. Sandeep Kapoor,  director of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment at Northwell Health and assistant professor of medicine, emergency medicine and science education at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Dr. Mark Su, director of the New York City Poison Control Center and clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, served as the symposium’s keynote speakers.


Kapoor is currently leading the charge to implement a unified substance misuse screening and intervention program to address the ongoing opioid epidemic and has numerous publications on assessing and treating exposures to a wide variety of drugs and toxins. “By showcasing the impactful contributions made by EM professionals, especially those at Northwell, we hope to inspire individuals to join the efforts in combating the most significant drug threats currently facing our country,” added Farina.


The symposium then followed over 20 attending residents and fellows who facilitated throughout the day and program directors who participated in a residency fair residency fair.


The panel allowed for attendees to see the opioid epidemic from the lens of a patient and how each individual person is impacted by this crisis. Attendees also got the chance to explore a residency fair featuring program leadership from the New York area, where they could learn more about the emergency medicine residency programs offered at each respective school and hear about more experiences.


The panels and residency fair allowed for networking and an opportunity to connect with peers and professionals from outside each attendee’s own institution. Some outside institutions represented included Stony Brook University, Brown University and Touro University.


A highlight of the event was the simulation activities which allowed all those in attendance to get hands-on and put their clinical skills to the test through emergency workshops and simulation sessions.


Some of the applied clinical skills stations featured at the event included a toxicology escape room session held in the school’s structure lab, Narcan training and intubation exercises and ultrasound practice. These hands-on experiences helped the conference achieve its goal to not only inform but also give people an opportunity to improve their skills and apply what they learned to improve the state of care in emergency medicine, not only in our region but beyond.


“The hope is that medical students come away from this event feeling more aware of some of the considerations that need to be taken when treating opioid addiction from a humanistic perspective and be more comfortable with recognizing the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, and how to administer Narcan in that setting. The opioid epidemic is a topic that truly affects every single medical specialty,” said McDevitt.


“The leadership and organizational skills that Liam and Madeline demonstrated in the planning of the 11th Annual Northeast EMIG Symposium were amazing,” said Farina. “They are both bright and passionate individuals who are bound to be leaders in the emergency medicine field and I look forward to what they continue to do next.”


The Emergency Medicine Interest Group would like to thank the attendees, panelists, Dr. Thomas Perera, Farina and Susan Caulfield from the Zucker School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs for their assistance in organizing this year’s EMIG symposium.


For more information on the Emergency Medicine Interest Group’s annual symposium at the Zucker School of Medicine, click here.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here