UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation receives $2.3 million substance use prevention services grant

January 29th, 2017 by healthinnovation
Members of the Substance Use Prevention Services Grant (L-R Kathleen Duggan, LuAnn Thibeau, Doreen Fournier, Heather White, Toho Soma, Becky Ireland)

Members of the Substance Use Prevention Services Grant (L-R Kathleen Duggan, LuAnn Thibeau, Doreen Fournier, Heather White, Toho Soma, Becky Ireland)


The University of New England (UNE) Center for Excellence in Health Innovation received a $2.3 million contract from the Maine CDC to provide statewide substance use prevention services to Maine youth and young adults as part of Maine Prevention Services, a group of services overseen by the Maine CDC providing primary prevention of substance use and misuse, tobacco use and obesity with a focus on youth empowerment and engagement. The primary focus of the substance use prevention efforts are to reduce heroin use, alcohol use and binge drinking, marijuana use and prescription drug misuse.

As a part of the contract, UNE subcontracts with nineteen local community agencies that work with the District Coordinating Councils for Public Health to ensure complimentary and appropriate substance use and misuse prevention services occur throughout the State. In addition to focusing on youth and young adults, prevention services also focus on populations with an undue burden of substance use and exposure such as MaineCare members, rural Mainers, veterans, pregnant women, Maine’s Tribal members and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The educators providing prevention services under the grant will be certified prevention specialists or carry provisional prevention specialist credentials and will employ evidence-based prevention strategies.

The team managing the grant is assembled and includes Karen O’Rourke, MPH, Project Leader, who led the efforts to hire staff and contract with sub-recipients and now provides supervision to the Program Manager offering assistance in planning and oversight of the program. Doreen Fournier, MSW, is the Program Manager responsible for overall implementation of the program and is the lead liaison between the other Maine Prevention Services vendors and is the primary contact for the Maine CDC. Becky Ireland, CPS, is the Program Coordinator providing training and technical assistance to the central and southern district sub-recipients. Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is sub-contracted by UNE to provide training and technical assistance to the northern and eastern district sub-recipients.

Funding for the grant is provided by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention with grants from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Partnerships for Success and SAMHSA Block Grants.

UNE students pursue three pathways to clinical distinction

January 29th, 2017 by healthinnovation

Students discuss their case at the interprofessional team immersion training which qualifies towards the Interprofessional Honors Distinction and the Care for the Underserved Pathway.


The University of New England offers students more than an excellent education in their field – UNE is known for leadership in interprofessional education, which prepares students for team-based, collaborative practice. At UNE, there are three separate pathways for students to gain interprofessional knowledge- the Interprofessional Honors Distinction, as SBIRT Student Leaders, and through the four-year Care for the Underserved Pathway. Interprofessional education aligns with national initiatives such as the Triple Aim, which seeks to improve the quality and safety of patient and population care and reduce overall costs. IPE learning methods equip UNE graduates with competencies for working in medical neighborhoods that lead with integrated practices.

The Interprofessional Honors Distinction (IHD), issued by the Interprofesional Education Collaborative (IPEC, established in 2010) offers all graduate students opportunities to learn about collaborative teamwork principles as specified by national standards. Specifically, students learn about each other’s roles and responsibilities, demonstrate cross-disciplinary communication, and solve complex problems within teams. Emphasis on teamwork gives students full expression within their area of expertise, while benefitting from the combined knowledge of other practitioners in service of optimal patient care. Fulfillment of its requirements indicates to future employers that students are prepared for the rigors of contemporary practice.

The second area of interprofessional focus is substance use disorders. In 2016 UNE received a three-year HRSA grant, “Collaborative SBIRT Training for Maine’s Future Health Profession Leaders.” SBIRT stands for Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment, an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. Students from all professions can choose to become SBIRT Student Leaders, and receive up to 15 additional hours of training in three key areas: Motivational Interviewing, Leadership and Interprofessional Collaborative Practice. Students selecting a focus in this area graduate with sought after readiness to join the workforce and have direct impact on the nation’s and Maine’s addiction epidemic.


Students inducted into the Care for the Underserved Pathway from UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2019 and Class of 2020.

The third area of interprofessional focus is on caring for underserved and vulnerable populations in Maine. UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, in partnership with UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, now offers a four-year Care of the Underserved Pathway (CUP) Honors Distinction that coordinates current and planned offerings in underserved care and combines them into a comprehensive pathway designed to ensure that rising physicians will provide quality care for underserved patients in Maine and beyond. CUP provides qualified and interested UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) students interprofessional (team-based) knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to care for underserved patients as well as recognizes students for their accomplishments, and encourages them to seek future positions in the care of the underserved. CUP Scholars will participate in a variety of service learning activities that are offered to the students that include influenza vaccine clinics in homeless shelters and veterans clinics, one-week rural immersions, international immersions, nutrition education among low-income Mainers, and the opportunities for clerkships in a variety of underserved urban, rural, and international locations. Stakeholders of UNE’s CUP Scholars Program hope to encourage students to obtain residency training in a program and plan for future practice that emphasizes team-based care for underserved patients.

Students who choose to participate in any of the pathways must first apply and be accepted. Upon completion of all of the requirements of the pathway, they are given a certificate for their portfolio, which students can provide to clinical sites when applying for externships, residencies, and jobs.


FMI: UNE Interprofessional Education Collaborative, ipec@une.edu

FMI: UNE Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, healthinnovation@une.edu

Refugee and Immigrant Youth Explore Careers in Healthcare with Maine AHEC Network

January 29th, 2017 by healthinnovation
Students from the New Mainers Public Health Initiative attend a class at the University of New England.

Students from the New Mainers Public Health Initiative attend a class at the University of New England.


This fall the Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network partnered with several programs at the University of New England to bring 20 high school students from the New Mainers Public Health Initiative (NMPHI) to visit UNE’s Biddeford and Portland campuses.  In an effort to increase the diversity of Maine’s healthcare workforce, Maine AHEC Network has collaborated with NMPHI to expose high school students who are the children of immigrants and refugees to healthcare careers. Karen O’Rourke, M.P.H., director of the Maine AHEC Network explained, “Many immigrant and refugee parents are unfamiliar with the educational system in the U.S. and many did not attend colleges themselves, so it’s important for us to create an avenue for these students to explore the education and career opportunities that are available to them, and become more comfortable with the application process and college environment.”

NMPHI is a health related, ethnic-based organization serving the needs of immigrant and refugee youth and their families. Their goal is to empower, inform and educate new Mainers in order to decrease health disparities. The UNE visit was part of NMPHI’s pilot program, Promoting Careers in Healthcare for Immigrant Youth, funded by the Maine AHEC Network, which targets juniors and seniors in high school in the Lewiston/Auburn area of Maine and does the following: involves students and parents in the process of entering the healthcare field; provides mentorship for students and encourages them to enter healthcare fields; provides access to job shadows at local hospitals and pharmacies; involves the elders as the community leaders to discuss the value of education; and facilitates student tours of local universities and connects them with academic advisers.

While visiting UNE, the students received a presentation from Undergraduate Admissions and toured both campuses, including a tour of UNE’s Oral Health Center. They learned about careers in the nutrition field from SNAP-Ed senior nutrition program coordinator and Nutrition Program faculty Anne-Marie Davee, M.S., R.D., L.D., and about careers as physician assistants from Joe Wolfberg, M.S., adjunct professor in the Physician Assistant Program. Faculty and students from the College of Pharmacy created an experiential learning activity that allowed the students to try their hands at creating a simulated medical compound. After the visit, one student shared, “It is very inspirational to hear [student and faculty] success stories. I also like the hands-on things because it gives deeper insight into the career field.”

Following the positive feedback from the first tour, NMPHI’s Executive Director, Abdulkerim Said, B.A.S., B.H.P., C.H.W. worked with Maine AHEC Network, and UNE’s College of Pharmacy to arrange a visit by pharmacy faculty to the NMPHI office in Lewiston. There, pharmacy faculty spoke with high school juniors and seniors about careers in pharmacy and explained the admissions process for the UNE program. Maine AHEC Network is excited to continue working with NMPHI to continue to offer programming in healthcare career exploration. “These types of programs are so crucial,” says Zoe Hull, M.P.H., program manager for Maine AHEC Network who helped organize the event, “not only because we have a dwindling healthcare workforce in Maine, but also because we can’t expect to meet the needs of all Mainers if our healthcare workforce doesn’t reflect the increasing diversity of our state.”

The Maine AHEC Network is part of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation. Its mission is to alleviate health workforce shortages in rural and underserved areas of the state. AHEC supports that effort by working with academic and community partners to 1) provide rural, community-based clinical training experiences for medical and other health professions students; 2) encourage Maine youth and mid-career professionals to explore health careers; and 3) support practicing health professionals with continuing education and distance learning opportunities.

Maine SNAP-Ed launches new website geared towards teaching families to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a limited budget

January 29th, 2017 by healthinnovation

SNAP-Ed Website screenshot copy


Maine SNAP-Ed, a program of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, with the help of Vont Performance Digital Marketing, launched an interactive website to reach SNAP recipients outside of the classroom. The migration from a landing page to a full website was driven by the needs heard from Nutrition Educators across the State that their participants wanted more information. Maine SNAP-Ed answered that request with a full website with healthy shopping, cooking, and meal planning tips.

When visiting the site, users can review multiple pages of content created by registered dietitians and program staff of the UNE SNAP-Ed team. One section of the website is specifically dedicated to answering common questions about food and nutrition. Users can also submit a request to be contacted by a nutrition educator in their area to learn of opportunities for classes and shopping tours. Maine SNAP-Ed will tap into its trained local Nutrition Educators to develop blog posts for more tips and solutions to shopping, cooking, and eating healthy within a limited budget.

The largest feature of the site is a recipe database with over 300 recipes. This database is shared in partnership with Oregon’s SNAP-Ed program, Food Hero. Maine SNAP-Ed has worked with the Oregon State partners to share recipes that are quick, easy, healthy and low-cost. In addition to all of the informational content, the website also houses program reports, success stories, and other material pertinent to program partners.

This website complements the work that has been done over the years with the Maine SNAP-Ed Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Partners interested in setting up local programming can submit a request to have a local Nutrition Educator reach out to them. Additionally, Maine SNAP-Ed would like to extend the opportunity to partner with community agencies on content for this website.

FMI: Leslie Ouellette, louellette3@une.edu