Preventing Prescription Opioid Misuse

Empowering Future Providers Through Education


About the Program

Combating today’s opioid epidemic is not just about treating addiction. Prevention is the first step in ensuring the safety of your patients and reducing our nation’s overdose death rate.


As future prescribers, you will see patients experiencing pain and possibly addiction. This course was designed to help prepare you to safely and effectively address your patients’ needs through the use of opioids and/or other treatment modalities.


Through the materials below, you will learn about:

  • Overcoming clinical bias
  • Navigating difficult conversations with patients
  • Educating patients on risks and responsibilities of opioid use

PAs actively working in the fields of pain management, substance use disorder (SUD), and psychiatry developed this program content and presented the material at PA programs across the country. Their experience and expertise provide valuable insight into how to safely prescribe opioids in the real world. Click below to learn more about these faculty members.


Each of the tools below covers a different element of safe opioid prescribing. They may be watched in any order but have been arranged in our suggested viewing sequence.

The Landscape of the Opioid Crisis

Learn the basics of prescription opioids and how patterns of overprescribing have contributed to the current opioid crisis.

Making the Treatment Decision

Justine Samanas, PA-C, explores factors to consider when treating a patient’s pain, including whether or not to prescribe opioids.

A Conversation about Cognitive Bias in Medicine

Jerry Erickson, PA-C, and Jill Mattingly, PA-C, discuss how different cognitive biases can impact the way healthcare providers treat patients. Special thanks to fellow faculty member Laura A. Katers, PA-C, for her contribution to the discussion and script development.

Important Patient Provider Conversations when Prescribing Opioids

Become familiar with some of the important conversations you need to have with your patients if they are or will be taking prescription medications.

Vital Minds Podcast: Preventing Prescription Opioid Misuse

Laura Katers, PA-C, speaks with host James Millward, PA-C, about how to safely reduce opioid prescribing while still addressing a patient’s pain and quality of life.


The simulation program below was created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). It can be used to learn and practice safe prescribing techniques through simulated case scenarios.

Pathways to Safer Opioid Use

Created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This training program will help students apply what they have learned about safe prescribing and put it to use in simulated role-play scenarios. Its content is based on the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention and encourages safe and effective opioid prescribing. It may be played multiple times with a variety of different avatars.

Start Practicing

How Much Do You Know About the Opioid Crisis?

Start Quiz

Can You Recognize Common Street Names for These Prescription Opioids?

Start Quiz


  1. CDC – Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
  2. SAMHSA – Opioid Overdose Toolkit
  3. CO*RE/ASAM – Pain Management and Opioids: Balancing Risks and Benefits Course
  4. ASAM – National Practice Guideline
  5. NIDA – Opioid Crisis and Pain Management
  6. NIDA – Transitioning Patients from Opioid Therapy
  7. PA Foundation SUD Programs
  8. PA Prescribing Authority by State
  9. SCOPE of Pain CME Training
  10. Allied Against Opioid Abuse


Questions about this guide? Contact the PA Foundation

The PA Foundation produced and is solely responsible for the content of this program. This project was funded through a grant by The AmerisourceBergen Foundation.
Special thanks to the presenters and the coordinating team of the PA Foundation: Joanna Weston, MPH, project manager; Caroline Pierce, communications and program manager; Lynette Sappe-Watkins, CFRE, executive director.

Jerry Erickson, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

Dr. Jerry Erickson is the immediate past president of the PA Foundation Board of Trustees.

He started his medical career as a medic in the U.S. Army. Erickson was a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship recipient while attending PA school and worked in rural primary care and urgent care for several years prior to transitioning into academia.

He completed his Doctorate in Medical Science earlier this year, with clinical interests including community health and pedagogical research.

Laura Katers, MS, MCHS, PA-C

Laura Katers is clinical faculty at the University of Washington Medical Center as part of a collaborative pain service. She lectures in behavioral medicine at MEDEX Northwest and has received training in mindfulness-based stress reduction and addiction counseling, and in 2020 will complete a fellowship in integrated community care from the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry. Prior to PA school, Katers supervised a large social detox facility in Denver, CO.

Jill Mattingly, DHSc, MMSc, PA-C

Dr. Jill Mattingly is the program director and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in the College of Health Professions at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. Prior to Mercer, she was the director of operations and lead PA at Breakthrough Addiction Recovery in Norcross, GA. She serves on the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Fundamentals Program Planning Committee and conducts ASAM live Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine workshops nationally. She also serves on the ASAM Opioid Use Disorder Course Committee, and is a presenter for the Opioid Waiver Course for PAs and NPs nationally.

Justine Samanas, PhD, MPAS, PA-C

Dr. Justine Samanas received her bachelor’s degree in medical studies with a minor in biology and healthcare administration and her master’s degree in physician assistant studies. She recently completed a PhD in strategic leadership and administration. Justine has been working in inpatient psychiatry since 2009. She currently continues to work clinically while working at Marywood University as clinical director of the PA program.

How Much Do You Know About the Opioid Crisis?

Quiz not available.

Can You Recognize Common Street Names for These Prescription Opioids?