In the Words of PAs

Using Nutrition as a Surgical Tool
Nicole Fox, MPAS, PA-C

For the past year, I have had the pleasure to serve as a Nutrition Outreach Fellow with the PA Foundation. The program offers additional training and resources on nutrition, with the goal of improving individual patient visits as well promoting wellness in our communities. This article reviews a concept called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery, or ERAS, which emphasizes the role of nutrition before and after surgery. Though not a standard part of many pre-operative exams, ERAS is a powerful tool that any provider can use to improve postsurgical outcomes.

Allied Against Opioid Abuse: Safely Treating Orthopedic Injuries and Managing Pain for Student Athletes
James Delaney, MS, PA-C, CAQ-OS

Every year, approximately 8 million students participate in high school athletics. With students across the country back to class — either virtually or in person — many families are also resuming participation in after-school athletic programs. Studies show that these activities improve fitness and academics and have long-term leadership benefits, extending far beyond graduation. While athletics can bring excitement and fun for students, they also bring the risk of injury. According to the CDC, high school athletes account for 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations annually.

Allied Against Opioid Abuse: Educating Older Adults and Their Caregivers About Prescription Opioids
Kristine Correira, PA-C, DScPAS, MHP, DFAAPA

During my nearly 30 years serving as a PA, I’ve found that older adults face unique challenges when it comes to pain management. For example, many older adults experience multiple chronic conditions, which often means they take several medications. In fact, Kaiser Family Foundation found that 89 percent of adults 65 and older take prescription medicines, and more than half of older adults take four or more prescription drugs. Taking multiple medications increases the opportunity for drug interactions, so healthcare providers should always review current medications with patients, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, to confirm that prescription opioids are safe to prescribe. Additionally, providers should also have a conversation with their patient to make sure no new prescriptions have been recently added by another provider.

Preventing Opioid Abuse and Misuse Within the Hispanic Community
Rafael Pomales, MHS, PA-C, DFAAPA, and Robert S. Smith, MS, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) called the opioid crisis among Hispanic/Latino* populations an “urgent issue,” and described the unique challenges faced by this population — including intergenerational and intercultural differences within households, language barriers, and stress related to migration and discrimination. As the fastest growing minority population in the U.S., it is imperative that the public health community better understand and address these challenges to not only curb the opioid epidemic but improve the overall health of Hispanic/Latinos across the country.