As Illicit Opioid Use Reaches Crisis Levels, Trent Undergrad Student Helps Develop Common-Sense Solutions

October 3, 2018

Sam Murray helps develop program for doctors to consider their prescriptions after surgeries

Samuel Murray stands wearing a grey shirt in front of some trees at Trent University.

A 19-year-old undergraduate Biology student used the skills learned at Trent University to help battle the nation’s opioid crisis this summer.

Sam Murray, third-year Biology student, worked with the not-for-profit organization Gateway Centre for Excellence in Rural Health to help develop the SaferScripts program, aiming to reduce the amount of prescription opioids that end up on the streets for illicit use.

Through his summer job, funded through a Canada Summer Jobs grant, Mr. Murray worked in Goderich, Ontario with Dr. Tiffaney Kittmer of Alexandra Marine and General Hospital on the project that aims to give doctors better information to not over-prescribe opioids after surgery.

“It has been well documented that there is a major opioid epidemic occurring across Canada and the United States,” says Mr. Murray. “A major contributor is excess prescription opioids which are being diverted to illicit opioid users. The SaferScripts study will collect data, which will be used to create prescription guidelines for general surgeries. If physicians have a better understanding of patients’ opioid requirements, then the amount of over-prescription will decrease and there will be less prescription opioids available to be misused.”

Mr. Murray helped develop project methodology, information and consent forms, data-collection sheets, budget breakdowns and even the study logo. He also worked on securing ethics approval and funding.

“During my first two years of studies at Trent, I was taught many skills that helped me feel prepared for this SaferScripts project such as how to conduct thorough literature reviews, properly write scientific papers, and set up data collection for studies,” he says.

Being involved in research opportunities over the summer really helps Mr. Murray stand out from the crowd and expand upon his learning.

“This experience allowed me to apply so much of what I’ve learned in classes at Trent, which really helped me see the value in what I was learning and deepen my understanding of concepts. Having a Biology degree from a University like Trent looks great for my future career.”

Learn more about Trent’s Biology program.

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