UA Phoenix Among First in Country to Create Addiction Fellowship

College of Medicine – Phoenix leads the way in Addiction Medicine through unique fellowship.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix is at the forefront of helping solve America’s biggest public health issue: the opioid epidemic.

The College of Medicine – Phoenix has created an Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program and revamped its medical school curriculum to address the thousands of opioid-related deaths each year.

“This is a wonderful thing for everyone,” Alan Leibowitz, MD, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education said. “These are prime examples of how the College of Medicine – Phoenix is responding to the opioid epidemic in its training. We are creating an environment for residents, students and clinical faculty to be educated on addiction, which will inevitably help care for the thousands of patients suffering from opioid abuse.”

Comprehensive addiction training is uncommon in medical education. The College teamed up with Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and the Phoenix VA Health Care System for the fellowship.

“We recognize that substance use disorders affect millions of Americans and is a condition that is seen through various setting of health care,” said Anita Karnik, MD, director of the fellowship program. “We hope to train physicians to be change agents, teachers and provide excellent care. We hope to increase awareness of substance use disorders and decrease any stigmatization associated with addiction treatment.” 

Dr. Karnik, an addiction psychiatrist at the Phoenix VA, created the program with Luke Peterson, DO, an addiction medicine specialist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

“Current medical students and residents in the U.S. traditionally have not received extensive, evidenced-based education about the treatment of addiction or pain as chronic disease,” Dr. Peterson said. “This has led to misconceptions about what substance use disorder is, how best to treat it, and the overlapping vulnerabilities of addiction and chronic pain.


“These misunderstandings have perpetuated personal and institutional bias of addiction and chronic pain, and contributed to the stunted workforce currently able to treat addiction in our community. This fellowship comes at an important time in our community when we need to train clinicians and leaders who can educate and model evidence-based addiction treatment and lead our community in advancing access to addiction care.”

The Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), operates under the College of Medicine – Phoenix and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The College is one of nearly 50 fellowships that were granted accreditation.


Applications are open for two positions starting July 2019. The fellowship is accepting applications from physician applicants from various specialties including but not limited to Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Anesthesiology, Pediatrics and Preventative Medicine.  

In addition to the fellowship, Dr. Peterson along with other educational leaders from the College of Medicine – Phoenix and 17 Arizona undergraduate health educational programs, developed a statewide opioid curriculum that calls on all provider types to address the public health emergency.

“Teaching future physicians and developing current physicians to understand alternative methods of management is important and when prescribing opioids for pain, to do so responsibly,” Dr. Manriquez said. “The medical, dental and even veterinary community have to take a good look at their practices and appreciate that we are a part of the problem occurring in society, but we are also the best equipped to be a huge part of the solution.”

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix is currently undergoing an audit of its entire curriculum to identify where Opioid Action Plan curriculum already exists. The audit is being led by Cinda Stone, M.Ed, director of curricular management. The College already meets 43 of the 73 proposed statewide objectives.

Contact: Teresa Joseph, 602-827-2657

Posted in AZBio News.