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College of Social Work

MSW/MPH Student Participates in Experiential Learning Program

April 30, 2020
Chris Woodley • 

The College of Social Work and the University of South Carolina offer numerous opportunities to enhance classroom studies. Dual Degree social work and public health graduate student Allie Silverman has already participated in interprofessional education opportunities and learned more about opioid use disorder in her graduate assistantship. But to increase her expertise, Silverman participated in the Quality Improvement Education and Systems Training program this academic year. 

The QUEST program offers experiential learning in quality improvement methods by pairing students with faculty mentors and teams at Prisma Health. The program allows students to apply the principles they are learning in online modules or in a classroom.

“I have always been interested in interprofessional education and more ways to be involved on campus,” Silverman says. “I thought the QUEST program seemed like a perfect opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary group on a project that could have a real impact. It made me a little worried about how I could continue to be involved when I realized that most of the QUEST students were medical, nursing, pharmacy, and physician assistant students. But this was such a positive learning experience.”

Silverman worked with two individuals from the UofSC School of Medicine, third-year medical student Kevin Crowley, M.S. and Christopher Goodman, M.D., clinical assistant professor of internal medicine, on their poster and presentation, “Creation of an Inpatient Addiction Consult Team: Project Update and Lessons Learned.” Their presentation was initially scheduled to be part of Discover USC 2020 earlier this month. Since this year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus, Silverman presented online during a virtual poster session. Silverman and Crowley were paired to work together with Dr. Goodman as their mentor. 

“Dr. Goodman was a fantastic mentor, and Kevin was a great teammate. We complemented each other well by working collaboratively and pulling from all of our backgrounds for a solid research basis,” Silverman says. “Even when there were setbacks, or we weren’t seeing some of the results we hoped for, we all kept going and adjusted and improved the project together.”

According to their poster, individuals with opioid use disorder are at risk for developing serious complications, such as overdose and complex infections. To combat these risks, Dr. Goodman created an inpatient addiction consult team, focused on individuals with opioid use disorder at Prisma Health Richland. Silverman and Crowley worked on the goals of the team, which was to increase the number of patients with opioid use disorder and infectious complications engaged in care prior to discharge. One of their successes was a patient who saw a buprenorphine prescriber within three business days of discharge, which was faster than normal thanks to the assistance of the inpatient addiction consult team.

“Even though we discussed interprofessional education in a classroom setting, this project taught me the importance of a social worker’s role on a team, especially when it comes to QI and health services research,” Silverman says. “I learned how valuable my background in public health and social work are helping to create a valuable and patient-centered project and how my classroom studies can be translated to help people in my community.

I also learned more about the clinical aspect of substance use disorder treatment. My graduate assistantship through the College of Social Work is working with (Associate Professor) Christina Andrews to research Medicaid policy for opioid use disorder. It was helpful to translate some of the knowledge I have gained from working with her into a project being implemented for patients in a hospital.”

Silverman knows that her experience in the QUEST program enhanced her classroom learning and field education. She is excited to utilize her new skills for the reminder of her dual degree studies.

“Participating in QUEST was one of the most helpful things I have done in my master’s program. It helped take a lot of the things that I have learned and applied them to real-world scenarios,” Silverman says. “While I am not in a field placement this year due to the dual degree program, I know that I will continue to use the skills I gained working closely with an interprofessional team in my next field placement at Student Health Services next year.”

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