University of Maryland School of Nursing Launches Nation’s First Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Substance Use and Addictions Nursing

April 21, 2021

Baltimore, Md. – This fall, the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) will become the first nursing school in the nation to offer a post-bachelor’s certificate in Substance Use and Addictions Nursing. The 12-credit graduate certificate, designed for registered and advanced practice registered nurses, will be offered online with a 90-hour clinical practicum in the student’s own location.

Substance use disorders (SUDs) remain a leading cause of death in the United States and in Maryland, which ranked No. 4 in the nation for drug overdose death rate in 2019. And the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, according to the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) and the Maryland Department of Health's (MDH) 2020 Annual Report. There was a 16.6% increase in unintentional intoxication deaths involving all types of drugs and alcohol in Maryland from 2019 - 20, with the pandemic contributing greatly to the increase. Across the country, COVID-19 has disrupted treatment and recovery support systems and has led to economic stress, despair, and uncertainty, especially among vulnerable populations, the OOCC and MDH stated.

The Substance Use and Addictions Nursing certificate prepares nurses to care for individuals, families, and communities affected by addictions across all practice settings; take on leadership roles in addictions nursing; and develop professionally, by building a career portfolio. It also facilitates their certification as addictions nurses and offers nurses specialized, focused education to address the complexities related to substance use and addictions.

“My vision for this program started when I worked in the ER, early in the opioid epidemic, and later in behavioral health, where I experienced firsthand the need for nurses to know how to address addictions,” said Victoria L. Selby, PhD ’17, MS ’09, BSN ’06, CRNP-PMH, PMHNP-BC, CARN-AP, assistant professor and director, Substance Use and Addictions Nursing Certificate program. “These patients were someone’s child, parent, their best friend – people with lives, dreams, and families. So, with a team of like-minded faculty, this program was not only built on facts and evidence, but also on the idea that nurses touch lives and can make a difference.” 

Certificate students will receive evidence-based education to increase their understanding of addictions and prevention, screening and treatment, and provision of quality care.

“I am extremely pleased that we are able to offer this new certificate for nurses; it is the first of its kind in the nation. We all know the central role nurses play in caring for individuals, families, and communities; increasingly, a solid understanding of addictions nursing is needed in order to deliver truly comprehensive care across settings,” said Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Bill and Joanne Conway Dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing. “UMSON has a more than 65-year history of excellence in psychiatric mental health nursing and has always been on the cutting edge of meeting the needs of our society. Our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their work in leading nursing’s response to substance use disorders and addictions. This certificate will be a tremendous contribution to the field.”

The Substance Use and Addictions Nursing Certificate was developed with assistance from a Nurse Support Program (NSP) II grant, funded through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Students in the program are eligible to apply for federal financial aid.

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The University of Maryland School of Nursing, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the nation and is ranked among the top nursing schools nationwide. Enrolling nearly 2,100 students in its baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders who shape the profession of nursing and impact the health care environment.