The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been awarded $114,344 from the Hamilton County Innovative Response to Opioids Grants to fund a clinical addiction studies certificate program to prepare students for the Tennessee Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Licensing Exam.
This program will lower barriers to addiction treatment by increasing the number of addiction professionals in Hamilton County. The inaugural cohort will consist of 10 participants.
Dr. S. Tyler Oberheim, assistant professor and clinical coordinator of the UTC Counselor Education program, and Megan McKnight, director of the Center for Wellbeing, were co-principal investigators.
“One of my passions is teaching addiction classes,” Oberheim said, “and we need to be able to train and properly prepare individuals to be specialized in addictions.
“I really want to tailor this program to cater to both our undergraduate and graduate students because I think it’s going to open doors for many individuals that want to do clinical work.”
The grant will grow the number of professionals trained to provide substance use treatment in the community and expand support for UTC’s motivational interviewing and Mocs Recovery programs.
The mission of the Mocs Recovery program is to provide a recovery-minded community in which UTC students in all phases of recovery can pursue their personal, professional and academic goals to enhance personal wellness and contributions to the global community. Recovery program staff collaborate with UTC professionals to support a continuum of care model (prevention, treatment and recovery) for substance use disorders.
“We hope to be able to expand the number of providers in our area who are trained in supporting clients with substance use disorders,” McKnight said. “As a certificate program, it ties in with the Center for Wellbeing—as students in the program must have clinical experiences in the field. Some placements will be in the community and others will be on campus through the Center.”
Jami Hargrove, UTC assistant director for health education and wellness promotion, emphasized the shortage of treatment providers everywhere—including Hamilton County.
“There’s a workforce development piece in this,” Hargrove said. “The need is so great, and we are often looking at long wait lists or running into barriers.
“Typically, the people trained in substance use work are working in treatment centers, and it may be months before somebody could get in to see someone. This grant will increase the amount of people trained to work with addiction, which in turn increases the amount of access to that treatment.”
The new certificate program will begin in fall 2024. For further information, interested parties should email Tyler Oberheim at email@example.com.