Amber Cahill, PsyD, assistant professor of family medicine and community health and clinical psychologist who directs the behavioral sciences program at Fitchburg Family Medicine residency, has been named a Bloomberg American Health Initiative fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr. Cahill trains resident physicians in mental health and addictions. She is also a professor at the Center for Integrated Primary Care, a team that develops and disseminates knowledge and skills through workforce development and practice-based research.
“I am deeply passionate about primary care and family medicine because it is this evolving entity that listens and responds to the needs of the community it serves,” Cahill said.
The Bloomberg American Health Initiative focuses on the critical health issues facing the nation: substance abuse and overdose, adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, and violence. The initiative was created in 2016 with a $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies in honor of the centennial of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Cahill is one of 50 scholars who received full scholarships to earn a master’s degree in public health. Upon completion of the degree, Bloomberg Fellows commit to working at least one additional year with their employer to apply the skills and tools learned during the Fellowship.
Cahill said she was immersed in treating substance use disorders, harm reduction and helping primary care clinicians treat addiction. Traditionally, people with addictions are referred to specialists or rehabilitation centers disconnected from the medical system, she explained.
“Over the past decade we’ve tried to blend these worlds together, as it should have been in the first place,” Cahill said.
Cahill recently completed a project led by Daniel Mullin, PsyD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, which created comprehensive Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) training for medical students from across the state, making them eligible after graduation to receive their DATA (Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000) waiver to administer, dispense, and prescribe buprenorphine. This medication treats opioid use disorder by relieving opioid withdrawal and decreasing cravings, while blocking the effect of other opioids. A shortage of “exempt” physicians has been a barrier to treating opioid use disorders in the community.
Thinking about harm reduction, policies, and how to help clinicians communicate with people who use drugs led Cahill to view drug use as a population health issue that affects many facets of life. This brought her to the Bloomberg stock exchange.
Cahill said, “I love it here and would love to implement the things I’m learning from a population health perspective and put those skills into action.”
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