Nebraska's latest addiction battle takes first major step

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nebraska is trying to fight back against addiction and Dr. Andrea Parde is a critical player in the battle.

UNMC along with the governor, state health officials and the Attorney General’s Office have helped to create an addiction medicine fellowship.

The year-long program is just getting started and Dr. Parde was the first doctor chosen for the fellowship. She is a board certified anesthesiologist but the country's addiction crisis inspired her to make a career change.

“I know people with addiction issues. It's affected close friends and family. Known the issues personally and I just feel like this is a great opportunity for us to positively impact people's lives."

There are approximately 60 addiction medicine fellowships in the country but UNMC’s is the first of its kind in our area.

Fellows are taught about medication assisted treatment which allows them to prescribe medicines patients wouldn't have access to if they were seeing a therapist or a doctor who didn't specialize in this field – “the pharmacologic medication that we have at our disposal to assist patients to stay sober and to get them into a lifestyle of recovery," Dr. Parde said.

Month by month, Dr. Parde will be learning in different environments with a variety of patients suffering from all kinds of addiction.

“From nicotine dependence to opioid use disorder to alcohol use disorder. And then the one that seems to be fairly prevalent in Nebraska: methamphetamine."

All of this in an effort to create doctors who can diagnose and treat addiction, help in recovery and assist other doctors with their patients.

Dr. Kenneth Zoucha, Addiction Medicine Division Director, said, "Not only are we helping people in Omaha at the University of Nebraska Medical Center but also to help patients throughout the state. And physicians throughout the state as well."

Once her orientation period is through, Dr. Parde will start seeing her first patients next Monday.

The next fellow for this program has already been selected and the fellowship directors hope to train more than one fellow at a time in the future.