Education - Page 10 - Clubs, from page 6

- Page 10
Clubs, from page 6
reduction is about reducing risk,” she explains.

Partnering with the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, the student group has trained approximately 850 peers and staff on how to respond in an overdose situation. The students in the school of nursing partner with the school of medicine and school of public health to bring presentations, panel discussions and roundtable conversations about harm reduction initiatives to the educational community. The group is also advocating for “Safer Consumption Spaces,” similar to those that are sanctioned in other countries, but not yet legal in the U.S. Kerr says she has visited InSite and others in Vancouver, British Columbia, the only currently legal sites in North America. She was able to bring her experience and knowledge back to JHU.

Kerr says the group is advocating for better programs to address the epidemic. “We need to get rid of the stigma. There’s a lot of fear and misinformation surrounding this topic, and we need to dispel the myths,” she says. An example of one of the myths is that substance use disorder is a moral failing. It is actually a neurobiological chronic disease. Kerr also advocates a language-changing initiative in the nursing profession to reduce the stigma of drug use. Instead of saying addict, use words like “person with a substance use disorder.”

“Changing people’s hearts and minds can be a challenge on a divisive issue,” Kerr says. “It takes a lot of little groups to make big changes.” Her short-term goal for the Harm Reduction program is to have all nursing students complete the opioid overdose training, and to make Narcan more readily available to health care students. “Right now, this is the only place that students can get free Narcan on campus.” Kerr says she hopes that the school administration will make opioid overdose training part of the official curriculum, and that it will also be part of a state-wide effort in higher education, with Narcan training similar to the hands-on CPR training that nurses receive. If this all happens in the next few years, Kerr says of her five-year plan: “Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”

Now, that’s impact. •

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Below: Group trainings include how to respond to an opioid overdose and administer Narcan/Naloxone, a lifesaving narcotic blocker.