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Governor Northam talks addiction at VCOM-Virginia

Gvernor Northam talking with students
Governor Northam during speech.

Governor Ralph Northam visited VCOM on his final stop in a grand round lecture series on opioid addiction. As a physician and politician, Governor Northam spoke about the devastating impact of opioid addiction and how doctors, like VCOM’s, can combat it.

Governor Northam is a pediatric neurologist who previously taught courses at Eastern Virginia Medical School. After serving as a doctor for the Army, he opened a practice in Norfolk, Virginia. At his practice, he became acutely aware of the legal frustrations faced by patients and started his political career.

Before his lecture, the Governor met with VCOM’s Military Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) recipients, who receive a scholarship in return for military service upon graduation for a roundtable discussion.    

With the Governor was Ryan Hall, a recovering addict from Covington, Virginia, who shared his experience with the disease. Hall, whose father is an Allegheny County Sheriff, described his journey from high school football player who was prescribed opioids for a broken leg to someone who struggle with a heroin addiction.

The Governor’s presentation included takeaway’s such as the overwhelming 1,700 opioid deaths that occurred in 2017 in Virginia that exceeded deaths caused by car accidents. He discussed the importance of not just treatment but also prevention when it comes to addiction.

VCOM works to combat the opioid epidemic by using a syllabus that teaches the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The College also has students that are accepted into and attend the Hazeldon Betty Ford Summer Institute for Medical Students (SIMS) each year. At SIMS they learn about addiction, treatment and recovery firsthand from professionals, patients and affected families. VCOM’s Mission is to improve human health and producing doctors educated about this major health crisis is one step in doing just that.