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New Course at Husson University will Help Nurses Effectively Treat Opioid Addicted Patients

Published on: August 8, 2018

Picture of graduate nursing students

BANGOR, MAINE - Husson University’s School of Nursing announced today that they’ll be adding a new course to their graduate and post-master’s nursing programs core curricula starting this fall. The course, “NU 708 Socio-Cultural Perception of Addiction and Population Health,” will run from September 4 to December 21, 2018. Husson University is currently the only college in Maine to offer a course that focuses on addiction and population health from a social determinants of global health approach.

The course is divided into three modules: “Social Determinants of Health,” “Global Health,” and “At Risk Populations: Addictions, Homeless and Veterans.” It will provide students with a better understanding of the social determinants that affect the health of populations, including the cultural environment that people live in.

“Our clinical partners expressed a need for a course like this,” said Donna Beuk, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, chair of the School of Nursing at Husson University. “We have developed this course to help practicing and aspiring advanced practice nurses recognize and work with patients who have opioid additions. This includes nurses in all types of healthcare settings – not just nurses who work in rehab facilities.”

The course instructor, Dr. Patricia Eldershaw agrees that education like this is important and has infused the course with a global perspective. “Students need to have a comprehensive understanding of the addiction crisis and all of its complexity,” she said. “With that knowledge in hand, healthcare professionals will be better prepared to work with and alleviate the suffering that comes with opioid addiction.”

Husson University is adding this course to its core MSN and PMC nursing curricula. That means that every student enrolled in graduate or post-master’s nursing degree programs offered by Husson will be required to take this course.

“It’s that important,” said Dean Paul Tingley, EdD, NCC, the interim dean for the College of Health and Education at Husson University. “By making this part of our core curriculum, we are 

sending a message to all of our graduate nursing students that ‘you all need to know this.’ Patients with addictions aren’t just seen at psychiatric or mental health facilities. Anyone who works with a patient in a professional healthcare setting needs to have this knowledge.”


Opioid Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Maine is among the top ten states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths.[1] In 2016, there were 301 opioid-related overdose deaths in Maine.[2] This amounts to 25.2 deaths per 100,000 persons and is nearly double the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000.[3] Since 2012, the number of deaths attributed to heroin overdose has increased more than fourfold[4], while synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths have increased even more dramatically, from 19 to nearly 200 deaths, between 2012 and 2016.[5]


More About Dr. Patricia Eldershaw

Course Instructor Patricia Eldershaw, PhD, MSN, RN, has completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in both sociology and nursing. She earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Waterloo in 2004 and was subsequently awarded a post-doctoral fellowship through the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology at the University of Alberta. She taught sociology at the University of Maine for several years before returning to school to obtain her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2013 and a Master’s of Science in nursing from the University of Maine in 2017. In addition to her role as a College of Health and Education faculty member, she serves as a registered nurse in primary care with the Maine Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Her areas of research include interprofessional education, issues in end-of-life care and religion.


More About Husson University:

To learn more about the Husson University School of Nursing graduate and post-master’s programs, this new course or other degree programs, visit Students interested in learning more about graduate degrees or post-master’s degree certificate programs should contact Graduate Admissions at (207) 404-5661 or email

For more than 100 years, Husson University has prepared future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent superior value in higher education. Our Bangor campus and off-campus satellite education centers in Southern Maine, Wells, and Northern Maine provide advanced knowledge in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. In addition, Husson University has a robust adult learning program. According to a recent analysis by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is the most affordable private college in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit


[1] National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Maine Opioid Summary: Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths,” Revised February 2018.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

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