issue Community Health 2024

Pharmacy Students Use Simulation to Practice Opioid-Overdose Response

By Sara Skoog
Danielle Candelario, PharmD, BCPS, associate director of pharmacy skills education and associate professor of pharmacy practice, discusses the importance of training students to treat opioid overdoses and conducts a simulation exercise for second-year pharmacy students.

RFU’s College of Pharmacy and Department of Healthcare Simulation provide second-year pharmacy students with a safe space to practice their clinical skills in simulated emergency situations such as administering intranasal naloxone (also known as Narcan®) in cases of suspected opioid overdose.

As opioid-associated emergencies and overdose-related deaths have increased over the past decade, healthcare provider training is crucial to the provision of emergency care services.

Each year, student pharmacists participate in a high-fidelity simulation in collaboration with RFU’s Department of Healthcare Simulation as part of the required didactic curriculum. Under the guidance of faculty, students develop their clinical skills in the setting of an opioid-associated emergency and administer intranasal naloxone, a quick-acting opioid-reversal agent that can save lives if given in a timely manner.

Working in teams of four, the pharmacy students evaluate and care for a simulated patient — in this simulated case, a 45-year-old patient brought in by EMS after a car accident. The patient is found behind the wheel with lacerations to the face and hands. The patient has shallow respirations and is lightly in and out of consciousness.

Providing rescue breaths using a mask and ventilation bag can be necessary when responding to opioid emergencies.

Through this 20-minute simulation, students learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose, identify appropriate use of the naloxone rescue product, identify the appropriate dosing for naloxone intranasal spray, and calculate an appropriate naloxone infusion dose and rate.

Sara Skoog is a staff writer with RFU’s Division of Marketing and Brand Management. In addition to writing for Helix and other university publications, she also produces Pulse, RFU’s monthly e-newsletter.