PA Student Substance Use Disorder Symposium

Join us for a new student event at AAPA 2019!

PA Student Substance Use Disorder Symposium
Saturday, May 18
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor, Centennial F-H

Supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Clinical Trials Network Dissemination Initiative

In the news, on the streets, and in your future exam room, substance use disorder (SUD) is a public health crisis with an enormous cost. Students are invited to join the PA Foundation for a symposium that will explore the landscape of the SUD crisis and include a panel discussion/Q&A session with PAs practicing in addiction medicine and primary care.

PA panelists will discuss:

  • Their interactions with SUD patients
  • How they build rapport and trust with patients
  • What motivates patients to seek help
  • Why it’s important for every PA to be prepared to treat patients with SUD

The presentation will also include an overview of SUD resources for healthcare providers, and attendees will receive an electronic informational guide to take with them.



Debra Newman, PA-C, MPAS, MPH
Debra Newman, PA-C, serves as Treatment Provider for the First Judicial District Court, Adult Drug Court, for Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties, New Mexico. Since 2015, she has worked in residential treatment, outpatient psychiatry, and chemical dependency in New Mexico and Colorado. Clinical settings have included a residential treatment center in Santa Fe, NM; a rural multi-specialty clinic in Lake County, CA; outpatient psychiatry/chemical dependency and treatment services at Kaiser Permanente in Denver, CO; and a detox/residential/extended residential facility in NM. She currently serves as a consultant for the Santa Fe Recovery Center.

Debbie received her Master of Physician Assistant Science degree from the University of St. Francis in Albuquerque, NM. She is a member of the ASAM Opioid Use Disorder Course Program Planning Committee, ASAM Criminal Justice Subgroup, and ASAM Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine Faculty, as well as the Santa Fe Prevention Alliance/Alliance Council, Santa Fe Opiate Safe (SOS), Cannabis Workgroup, and Criminal Justice Workgroup. She is currently working on a training and technical assistance video as part of the Targeted Opioid Response Grant for the state of NM. She is a 2017 recipient of the PA Foundation’s NIDA Mentored Outreach Award in Substance Use Disorders Treatment Dissemination.


Matthew Probst, PA-C
Matthew Probst dedicates his life to cultivating health in his native northern New Mexico. A graduate of the University of New Mexico PA program in 2003, he serves as medical director/chief quality officer at El Centro Family Health, a rural FQHC with 27 clinics across 23,900 square miles. Matt is founding director of Semillas De Salud, a future health professional program which has provided over 400 clinical rotations for health career students and is growing a healthier tomorrow using an expansive peer health education workforce in rural schools. He serves on the New Mexico Academy of PAs board and on the NM Health Care Workforce Committee. He volunteers as a sports medicine provider and coach for local youth. More than accolades, his greatest pride is his family. They enjoy rural living and value most faith, nature, and community.

Michelle Gaffaney, PA-C
Michelle Gaffaney is a PA on the addiction consult/liaison service at Denver Health Medical Center. She sees patients who are hospitalized for medical conditions with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders, and provides MAT, withdrawal management, psychiatric stabilization, and referrals to treatment. She also serves as the associate director of the Behavioral Health Physician Assistant Fellowship at Denver Health Medical Center and an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Colorado. Michelle is a graduate of the University of Colorado CHA/PA program at Anschutz Medical Campus. She is originally from Minneapolis, MN.

James Anderson, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA
James Anderson has been a PA since 2000. He currently works in Seattle at Evergreen Treatment Services, a federally approved Opioid Treatment Program. He is the current president of the AAPA Society of PAs in Addiction Medicine, and is a commissioner on the Washington State Medical Commission. A graduate of the University of Washington Medex PA program, he holds a clinical faculty appointment with the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine. He has given presentations about addiction locally, regionally, and nationally, and has written extensively about addiction. He currently writes monthly blog posts for the Clinical Advisor publication.