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IOM committee taps School of Nursing pain expert; calls for interdisciplinary approach to pain management training

For immediate release
Date:    July 12, 2011
Contact:   Ashley Wiggin- Communications and Marketing Officer,, 206-221-2456

SEATTLE- The IOM Committee on Advancing Pain, Research, Care and Education, which included two UW faculty members in Nursing and Medicine, released their report on pain management June 29, 2011. This report calls for increased attention to pain education and management in health care programs, and an increased need for interdisciplinary training in pain management. Dr. Peg Heitkemper, Professor and Chair in the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems in the School of Nursing and Dr. Dennis Turk, Professor of Anesthiseology and Pain Research in the School of Medicine sat on the 20 member committee, which included Faculty in medicine from across the country.

“Pain response is a major part of what nurses deal with at the bedside,” Said Dr. Peg Heitkemper, Professor and Chair in the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems. “Pain management is considered a principal part of nursing.” 

The report places an important emphasis on the need for interprofessional education, especially when it comes to pain management in patients. With a recent grant to the school of nursing to support interprofessional education from the VA, the School of Nursing is already working closely with units across campus including medicine, pharmacy and social work to create strong partnerships for care delivery.

While the UW School of Nursing already has pain management coursework integrated in all levels of graduate and undergraduate curriculum, many medical schools do not. According to the report, a recent study found that only five of the nation's 133 medical schools have required courses on pain and just 17 offer elective courses. Dr. Heitkemper notes that most nursing schools, however, make coursework on pain management a key part of their curriculum.

The committee called for coordinated, national efforts of public and private organizations to create a cultural transformation in how the nation understands and approaches pain management and prevention.  Some of the recommended changes can be implemented by the end of 2012 while others should be in place by 2015 and maintained as ongoing efforts.

The full report can be downloaded through the National Academy of Sciences here.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit