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buprenorphine, medication-assisted treatment, opioid use disorder background, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, veterans



  1. Jones, Jennifer MSN, PMHNP, CARN-AP
  2. Tierney, Matthew MS, PMHNP, FAAN
  3. Jacobs, Gabrielle MSW, MSN, PMHNP
  4. Chien, Shao-Yun BS
  5. Mallisham, Sandra DNP, PMHNP


Background: Few veterans with opioid use disorder receive effective treatment despite the Veterans Health Administration's efforts to expand treatment by offering buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid use disorder (MOUD). An insufficient prescribing workforce contributes to the underutilization of buprenorphine; however, nurse practitioners (NPs) can now obtain a waiver to prescribe this medication. This quality improvement project aimed to expand the prescribing workforce by educating psychiatric mental health NPs (PMHNPs) working in an emergency setting at a Veterans Affairs Health Care System about free MOUD training and empowering them to utilize buprenorphine treatment.


Methods: Eleven PMHNPs were asked for their perception of prescribing buprenorphine. They were asked if they had an MOUD waiver and/or were aware of the free waiver training. The PMHNPs were educated on the importance and process of obtaining the DEA-X waiver, and then a post-intervention discussion was completed to determine if they completed the waiver training.


Results: At baseline, all 11 PMHNPs believed offering MOUD was important, but only three had the waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. After the education, three additional PMHNPs obtained the waiver and 10 planned to have the waiver in the next year. The department is planning to trial offering buprenorphine treatment, and PMHNPs at this facility are privileged to prescribe buprenorphine. In addition, five new PMHNP residents started or completed the training.


Conclusions: This project shows the potential to increase veteran access to MOUD by emphasizing education and empowering PMHNPs to initiate treatment. Providing education regarding the importance of buprenorphine treatment in the emergency setting and delivering information about the free waiver training facilitated workforce preparedness.