Behind the Scenes of the ACAAM National Addiction Medicine Didactic Curriculum

How ACAAM Established a Weekly, Fellowship-Run, Conflict-of-Interest-Free Addiction Medicine Curriculum

The ACAAM National Addiction Medicine Didactic Curriculum is a weekly, fellowship-run didactic experience for addiction medicine fellows and faculty. The curriculum sessions are now in their second year, having launched at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year. Each week, dozens of addiction medicine fellowship program faculty and fellows convene for live Zoom sessions and to hear an expert speak on different addiction medicine topics. The topics are mapped to the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) addiction medicine exam blueprint as well as the ACGME medical competencies. In addition to faculty and fellows, sessions are open to all health care professionals and trainees interested in expanding their education about treating and assessing patients with substance use disorders.

Live participants ask questions during an October 2021 curriculum session

A Conversation with ACAAM Vice President for Medical and Academic Affairs, Tim Brennan, MD MPH

Tim Brennan, MD MPH has led efforts to establish the ACAAM National Addiction Medicine Didactic Curriculum. In addition to his role as ACAAM’s VP for Medical and Academic Affairs, Tim is the Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospitals and the Program Director of the Fellowship in Addiction Medicine Program at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai in New York City.

To get a true behind the scenes look at the ACAAM curriculum, we went right to the source, asking for Tim’s insights through the following Q&A:

ACAAM: What was the impetus for establishing the ACAAM National ADM Didactic Curriculum? What need was ACAAM trying to fill for ADM fellowship programs?

Tim Brennan: Most addiction medicine fellowships have 1-2 fellows and 3-4 faculty members. This makes a weekly didactic experience challenging from a logistical standpoint (it is awkward to lecture to an audience of 1 or 2 every week for 52 weeks). Fellowship directors had spoken for a few years about creating a shared didactic program. The COVID pandemic raised everyone's comfort level with virtual connections, and so this helped get people more comfortable with the idea.

We wanted the programs to have a group identity as ACAAM, and this weekly event (I think) helps to foster that group identity. 

ACAAM: Who is the curriculum designed for, and who do you think can benefit from it?

Tim Brennan: Fellows primarily, but anyone interested in evidence-based addiction medicine could benefit (MD, RN, NP, PA).

ACAAM: How are topics and presenters selected?

Tim Brennan: Working with the Curriculum Committee, I identified the topics and then invited people that I thought would be good for certain topics. We had a Town Hall when I announced the project and many people volunteered in real-time.

ACAAM: Do any especially noteworthy memories come to mind from one of the dozens of ACAAM curriculum sessions you’ve moderated over the past year+?

Tim Brennan: The DEI sessions have been a particular highlight and served to underline ACAAM's commitment to this important topic. 

ACAAM: What is your favorite part of a weekly ACAAM curriculum session?

Tim Brennan: Seeing everyone's friendly face (for those brave enough to turn on the video), and the high quality questions and comments from fellows. It shows that our field is truly academic.

ACAAM: What kind of feedback have you received from attendees about the curriculum sessions?

Tim Brennan: The feedback that has come to me is very positive. People seem to really like the sessions and want them to continue.

ACAAM: Is there an upcoming session or topic that you’re especially looking forward to in the remainder of the 2021-2022 ACAAM curriculum series?

Tim Brennan: I was hoping that we would have a "snake oil" session, but that topic has been moved to 2022-2023. I may just volunteer myself for it. I have a particular grudge against bogus addiction cure peddlers.

How to Participate

Participation in weekly ACAAM National Addiction Medicine Didactic Curriculum sessions is a benefit of ACAAM membership. Academic addiction medicine physicians, ADM fellowship program faculty and fellows, and all medical students, residents, and fellows qualify for ACAAM membership. Learn more and join >

Anyone who is not eligible for membership or prefers not to join is still welcome to participate in curriculum sessions. The entire 2021-2022 series, including access to live sessions as well as session recordings, can be purchased for $750, and individual sessions (including session recording) are available for $30/each. Learn more and purchase sessions >

2021-2022 Didactic Curriculum Schedule
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