Making a difference

UND Nursing hosts workshop for state behavioral health professionals on reducing substance abuse in their communities

Bruce Horwitz

Bruce Horwitz, a national expert on substance abuse screening and intervention, addresses an audience of North Dakota behavioral healthcare professionals on Monday, Nov. 14, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Photo courtesy of Thomasine Heitkamp.

A University of North Dakota team wrapped up a training workshop Tuesday, Nov. 15, that equipped 28 behavioral health professionals from across the state with the skills needed to better identify and reduce substance abuse in their communities.

The two-day train-the-trainer event at Grand Forks’ Alerus Center featured Joseph Hyde and Bruce Horwitz, national experts on substance abuse screening and intervention. The training was conducted by the North Dakota Screening and Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) team, part of a grant-funded program at the University of North Dakota College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines. Gayle Roux, dean of the UND College, kicked-off this important workshop with remarks on Monday.

The purpose of the training was to advance training throughout North Dakota about SBIRT processes, as well as address other behavior health topics, such as motivational interviewing, adolescent screening and addressing health disparities.

Participants at the training workshop came from communities across North Dakota, including McVille, Maddock, Ray, Rolla, Belfield, Eldridge and Fessenden. The training audience also included representatives from each of the state’s eight regional human service centers, the State Hospital in Jamestown and the Office of Behavioral Health, part of the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

People representing tribal entities, county public health systems, the foster care program, and various UND faculty  also attended.

“Each of the participants left Grand Forks with the skills to train others in their home communities and agencies about this evidence-based model designed to identify and reduce risky substance use,” said Thomasine Heitkamp, a workshop organizer and professor of social work at UND.

Tina Weiss, a registered nurse at the West Central Human Service Center in Bismarck, was encouraged by the workshop’s attendance, with people representing many regions across the state.

“I am looking forward to taking this back to my community and hearing about how other people take this back to their community,” Weiss said. “It is especially needed in western North Dakota.”

The SBIRT project at UND is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, and includes an inter-disciplinary team of faculty from psychology (Joe Miller), nursing (Maridee Shogren, Jackie Roberts and Chris Harsell) and social work (Heitkamp and Angie Muhs).