Newswise — NOVEMBER 18, 2021, Nutley, NJ – An innovative opioid treatment federal grant program will fund critical training through the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the Seton Hall University College of Nursing and the Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences.  

The "Expanded Interprofessional Medication-Assisted Treatment Training Program" is a three-year grant totaling about $450,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The grant allows the training of future clinicians to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services for individuals with an opioid use disorder (OUD). The new three-year grant follows a former three-year grant which concluded this summer with a major conference.

“We believe this work is making a difference for the future of treating this major health problem,” said Kathleen Neville, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, associate dean of graduate studies and research at the Seton Hall College of Nursing, and the grant’s principal investigator. “In our first grant, more than 400 students in our three schools have received training. Now in our new grant, we are engaging in partnership with Monmouth University to train their nurse practitioner and physician assistant students, anticipating that 1,000 students will be DATA-waivered to prescribe MAT after graduation and be more prepared to address healthcare disparities and the opioid epidemic.”

“This collaborative project allows us to make an impact at the very foundation of medicine, providing training to future clinicians to raise awareness of, and impart solutions to, the challenges brought about by the opioid epidemic,” said Stanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies, and chair of Medical Sciences at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, another one of the project’s leaders. “We look forward to continuing and indeed, expanding this good work for another three years.”

The grant covers training for nurse practitioner, physician assistant and medical students regarding MAT for individuals with opioid-use disorders. Upon completion of the training, all students receive a Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA) waiver – formally permitting prescription of the powerful anti-opioid dependency drug buprenorphine.  

According to Brian B. Shulman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, FASAHP, FNAP, dean of the School of Health and Medical Sciences, “The school’s physician assistant (PA) students participation in this second SAMHSA grant reaffirms not only expanding the role of the PA as an integral member of the interprofessional healthcare team but also reaffirms our commitment to preparing future healthcare practitioners and leaders to make a difference in the lives of the individuals in their care.”    

The first three-year grant enabled the development and implementation of an interprofessional DATA-Waiver Training Program embedded in the curriculum in the three schools. This DATA-Waiver program consists of 24 hours of didactic training for nurse practitioner and physician assistant students and eight hours for medical students, followed by 10 hours of clinical training at Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead, New Jersey, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, New Jersey.

“The initial grant awarded in 2018 represents a successful interprofessional initiative to address a worsening opioid crisis in America,” reported Dean Marie Foley, Ph.D., R.N., College of Nursing. “This second grant addresses vulnerable and underserved populations in urban areas where there are significantly higher mortality rates. Attention to disadvantaged and marginalized populations is very much needed to confront this epidemic.” 

The new project will additionally address health disparities and social determinants of health of underserved, vulnerable populations, including those living in urban communities with high mortality rates due to overdose. It is hoped that this outcome will be accomplished through revision of the curriculum and expansion of the training to clinical sites in Newark, NJ including Integrity House, Broadway House, the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc., and Saint James Health. The new grant also extends the training to Monmouth University’s nursing and physician assistant students, a pilot program involving the dissemination of the curriculum to other institutions.

More than 400 students successfully completed the DATA 2000 (DEA-X) Waiver training program by the end of the first three-year grant, making them eligible to obtain a DEA-X to prescribe MAT. With increased numbers of health professionals who can prescribe MAT, treatment recovery outcomes for individuals with opioid use disorders will improve.

The first grant was capped by the virtual conference “Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders: State-of-the-Art Science to Advance Clinical Care,” held July 30 of this year. The event was organized by the project leaders: College of Nursing Associate Dean Neville; School of Health and Medical Sciences Department Chair and Assistant Professor Christopher Hanifin, M.S., PA-C; and Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Associate Dean Terlecky. 

“This is a critical need for all clinicians in the 21st century,” said Bonita Stanton, M.D., the founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “The health care workers of the future need to have the tools to address addiction. Through our innovative and highly inter-professional training at the beginning of the careers of our medical, nursing and physician assistant students, we are well-equipping the students to achieve the goal of substantial reduction among their communities in opioid addiction.”


The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Hackensack Meridian Health assumed its independent operation in July 2020. The school’s vision is that each person in New Jersey, and in the United States, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, will enjoy the highest levels of wellness in an economically and behaviorally sustainable fashion. The School’s unique curriculum focuses on linking the basic science with clinical relevance, through an integrated curriculum in a team-oriented, collaborative environment. The school prides itself on outreach, through programs like the Human Dimension, which is active in communities across New Jersey. 



One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856.  Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 80 rigorous majors, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, US News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.  Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and caring global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car to New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. A new independent economic analysis of the University found that Seton Hall provides a significant impact on New Jersey's economy, totaling over $1.6 billion annually and creating and sustaining nearly 10,000 jobs. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark. The University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses Seton Hall’s College of Nursing, its School of Health and Medical Sciences as well as Hackensack Meridian Health’s Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. 

As New Jersey's first college to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program, Seton Hall's College of Nursing has educated approximately one-third of all New Jersey nurses. Offering educational opportunities from B.S.N. and Accelerated B.S.N. degree through the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) and Ph.D., the College's mission is to educate baccalaureate-prepared generalists and advanced practitioners of nursing who aspire to be innovators and leaders in the nursing profession with a commitment to lifelong learning, service and leadership for the greater good of the global society.

In response to society's rapidly changing healthcare needs, the School of Health and Medical Sciences combines the expertise of Seton Hall with the resources of affiliate healthcare sites to provide exemplary academic and clinical training in graduate-level health sciences and health administration. The school's emphasis on interprofessional education prepares healthcare leaders of tomorrow to focus on patient-centered care and to make a difference in patients' lives and their communities. For more information, visit