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Yale GIM Fall Retreat Develops CHAMPions to Care for Patients Who Use Substances

November 24, 2020

Convening virtually for a day of learning and skill-building in addiction medicine and behavioral health, the Fall Yale GIM Faculty Retreat, “Developing Generalist CHAMPions to Care for Patients Who Use Substances,” was held via Zoom on Friday, November 13 with more than 50 participating throughout the day. Led by Kenny Morford, MD, FASAM; Jeanette Tetrault, MD, FACP, FASAM; Dana Cavallo, PhD; and Emma Biegacki, MPH; Collaborative Behavioral Health & Addiction Medicine in Primary Care (CHAMP) Training Program leadership, the aim was to prepare Yale General Internal Medicine faculty to care for patients who use substances, by identifying Practice Pearls and Teaching Tools, and encouraging pursuit of the Commit to Change Challenges, themes reiterated throughout the day.

The introductory remarks, provided by Morford, stated three goals: first, to describe the CHAMP program and its educational model that develops generalist champions in addiction treatment; second, to explain how inaccurate terminology perpetuates stigma and contributes to the addiction treatment gap; and third, to practice motivational interviewing strategies to effectively communicate with patients who use substances.


The Retreat then switched to a choice of virtual workshops, some of which were repeated in afternoon sessions. Drawing on expertise from core faculty in the Program in Addiction Medicine, workshops covered a range of topics:

  • Pain & Addiction: Evidence and Patient-Centered Clinical Pearls (Drs. William Becker and Caroline Falker)
  • What Do I Need to Know About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? (Dr. Dana Cavallo)
  • Demystifying Medications for Addiction Treatment: Opioid, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use Disorders (Dr. Kenny Morford)
  • Obtaining & Maximizing Your X-Waiver [for Buprenorphine prescribing] (Drs. Lisa Puglisi and Steven Holt)
  • Optimizing Safety and Reducing Harm for Patients Who Use Substances (Drs. Kimberly Sue and Ryan McNeil)

To allow for a more relaxed Zoom experience, during the lunch break, at which point participants could order lunch to their respective homes/locations from local restaurants using Door Dash, participants could also view a Lunch and Learn recording, “Beyond Rehab: Navigating the Addiction Treatment Landscape in the Greater New Haven Area” which featured the core and affiliated faculty of the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine and community partners.

The retreat also included 15-minute “wellness breaks” between sessions to combat Zoom fatigue. Participants could use this time to step away, catch up on emails, or tune in to a curated slideshow featuring wellness tips, artwork from current CHAMP trainees, and more information about CHAMP.

The retreat was a day full of hands-on, practice-based learning that can directly be applied to addiction treatment, as well as to other realms focused on patient-centered care. The event served as a reminder that, as participant Anna Reisman, MD, stated, “There are few other fields [like Addiction Medicine] where the respect and humanity run deep, and there is a beautiful desire to be there for people and meet them where they are.” She went on to say [in Addiction Medicine], “You have your criteria, your algorithms, your approaches, all of them abundantly well-thought-out, which allows you to know how to approach a gazillion complicated situations.... You all presented this vision of having that malleable but firm approach that includes constrained choices and CBT and so many other great options - an approach that allows you to focus on the relationship with the person.”

Kenny, Jeanette and Dana remind you to pursue the Commit to Change Challenges in the coming weeks.

Retreat participants, please look for the email from Emma Biegacki, on Friday, November 20 requesting for you to complete the retreat and workshop evaluations, if not already completed. Please also remember that CHAMP is recruiting participants for the CHAMP Faculty Development Program in AY2021-22. If you are interested in learning more about the CHAMP program, contact Emma Biegacki.

The 2020 Fall Yale GIM Faculty Retreat would not have occurred without the sensational organization skills of CHAMP Program Manager, Emma Biegacki. The event was hosted by the Yale Section of General Internal Medicine. For more information, see the retreat agenda and workshop descriptions. In addition, recordings of the opening session, lunch & learn, as well as each workshop along with corresponding slide decks and supplemental materials, can be access via this Box folder with a Yale NetID.

Submitted by Ruth Arnold on November 23, 2020