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UW Division of Social Work Aims to Prepare Students to Fight Opioid Epidemic

February 21, 2020
Eleanor Pepi Downey and Kym Codallos

The University of Wyoming Division of Social Work has been awarded $55,000 by the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) to prepare students to lead the charge against the opioid epidemic in Wyoming and the United States.

The grant funding also directs $48,000 toward student stipends.

“Our objectives for implementing this grant are to refine and expand existing addiction-related coursework,” says Division of Social Work Director Eleanor Pepi Downey. “We plan to partner with field placement sites around Wyoming that offer addiction-related services to help our students learn firsthand how these agencies and their staff are often a front line of response in providing treatment for individuals fighting opioid addiction.”

Associate Lecturer Kym Codallos will act as lead faculty member for teaching and instruction on addiction courses. By the end of the spring semester, Codallos hopes to have seven or eight students enrolled in addiction coursework and working as interns at identified field placement sites.

The opioid grant funding will be divided across agencies, the Division of Social Work and student support, with $1,000 supporting field placements in agencies around the state; $5,000 supporting the division, including faculty and administrative work; and $6,000 supporting up to eight students, covering their placement in substance abuse treatment agencies.

UW is one of 10 universities from around the United States that were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants for the NCBH funding. The other universities are University of Alaska-Anchorage, Campbellsville University, the University of Iowa, Florida International University, Portland State University, Stony Brook University, Touro College, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

All 10 will form a learning collaborative, including monthly webinars and teleconference meetings.

As part of this learning collaborative, each school will work directly with a consultant to increase access to resources and boost the quality of addiction course content. The goal for full implementation of the addiction coursework curriculum and student field placement is May 2021.

“We are delighted to have additional resources to combat this significant public health crisis in Wyoming and increase our graduates’ competencies in treating and preventing addiction,” Downey says.

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