Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Marti Jordan

Committee Chair School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 2

Dr. Carolyn Coleman

Committee Member 2 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice


The opioid epidemic is affecting Mississippi’s young to middle-aged adult population in a profound way. Pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder (OUD) is the gold standard treatment. Despite the FDA-approved evidence-based treatment of pharmacotherapy for OUD, rural areas often lack providers available who will initiate and provide maintenance of this life-saving medication. For this doctoral project, a 36-question survey was developed based on a preliminary literature review. The survey was disseminated to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in the family and psychiatric specialties across Mississippi to assess the barriers to APRNs filling the gap in pharmacotherapy prescribing for OUD. A continuing education program was developed for the dissemination of the results of the survey, to provide education, and offer further resources on evidence-based treatment for OUD.

The PICO question investigated for this doctoral project was: Among psychiatric and family nurse practitioners in Mississippi will a survey of knowledge related to OUD treatment, perceived barriers in buprenorphine prescribing, and awareness of stigma reveal, compared to current practice, that APRNs are adequately prepared to undertake a leadership role in prescribing pharmacotherapy for OUD?

The doctoral project offered insight into the barriers to the provision of pharmacotherapy for OUD by Mississippi APRNs which guided the continuing education program developed by the researcher. Providers were not adequately prepared through graduate education to manage OUD by utilizing evidence-based pharmacotherapy treatment. Stigma amongst healthcare providers toward this population was apparent which warrants more education and immersive clinical experiences at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Reduced practice in Mississippi could interfere with the provision of pharmacotherapy for OUD by APRNs willing to prescribe it.

Mississippi graduate nursing programs should strive toward the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) 2018 goal, as noted in Compton and Blacher (2020), to incorporate pharmacotherapy for OUD in graduate nursing curriculums to prepare future APRNs to fill the gap in treatment provision for people with OUD. Education in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs should address the stigma associated with addiction disorders. Prolonged collaborative agreements between physicians and APRNs in Mississippi should be re-evaluated and full-practice authority for APRNs with several years of experience should be granted.