Spotlight on YaleWomen Atlanta: “The Opioid Epidemic – Lessons from the Field”

How do chapters develop the events they host? Some chapter events emerge at the intersection of various “dots” – that is, alums of Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools who can bring different bodies of knowledge and experience to conversations. This is how the event YaleWomen Atlanta hosted in January, “The Opioid Epidemic: Lessons from the Field” emerged.

Tari Owi ’09, who coordinated the event, is administrator of the neurology practice for Emory University School of Medicine faculty physicians and nurse practitioners who practice at the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center. She is also program director of the Marcus Telestroke network. Owi describes the members of the YaleWomen Atlanta planning team as diverse, interesting, and curious, and said that the idea for the event emerged organically.

One alum knew Amy Baxter ’91, MD founder and CEO of Pain Care Labs. She thought that an event featuring an alum who is an innovator and entrepreneur working on the cutting edge of tackling the issue of pain management would be compelling to other alums. Coincidentally, Owi’s department at Emory, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, had recently hired Justine Welsh, MD who is a child/adolescent addiction psychiatrist and director of Emory Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Services. 

Together in conversation, Drs. Baxter and Welsh offered two different perspectives on understanding and addressing the opioid crisis – an issue that is relevant and personal to many – in care-delivery settings. Of note to the audience of the nearly 30 attendees, which included alums, family, and friends:

  • Georgia is among the top 10 states in the country with a growing incidence of opioid deaths.
  • Most youth addiction cases begin when youth take medications from family members or are given them by friends. Many don't even know what they're taking.
  • Many physicians are engaged in a comprehensive effort to standardize post-op diagnosing patterns and offer alternative pain management methods.

Owi noted that her time at Yale offered her many opportunities to grow and develop. Most important, though, it exposed her to a community of intellectually curious individuals who were interested in the world around them and how they could make their mark. YaleWomen Atlanta has offered her the same opportunities to engage with women from all walks of life who easily fall into a rapport. Many of these alums have become friends outside of YaleWomen Atlanta, providing support and career advice as well as camaraderie.

You can reach Owi and YaleWomen Atlanta by email at atlanta@yalewomen.org.

For more information on the opioid issue through a gender lens, see Women’s Health Research at Yale's “Opioid Crisis Roadmap Overlooks Gender.”  To learn more about Dr. Baxter’s work, go to A Needle Pain Awareness Booster and Pain, Empathy and Public Health. Tari earned her MSc at the Harvard School of Public Health – you can hear more about her career path and work here.

Photo: Sharon Braunstein 82 MFA


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