An opioid education course developed at the University of Waterloo has received a national award. 

The online continuing education course, designed for pharmacists and doctors, received recognition from the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education for "non-credit programming under 48 hours."

The course, launched last fall, was created by health care researchers at UW's School of Pharmacy and the Center for Extended Learning with the help of about $700,000 in grant funding from Health Canada.

It includes videos, cases, quizzes and interactive activities about opioids, as well as a collaborative online space where people can leave questions and responses.

"We didn't want to recreate anything that was developed already and well used," Tejal Patel, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

Patel said the course could one day be extended for use with nurse practitioners and dental professionals as well.

Some participants were asked to complete a survey before and after the course. 

"We saw significant improvement in their knowledge of opioid use, in their perception of collaborating with each other and understanding of each other's roles, we saw an improvement in their self confidence and finally we saw a number say they planned to change their practise," said Patel. 

Local and international interest

Opioid overdoses are a major concern for healthcare providers in Waterloo Region. 

A online opioid tracking tool from Public Health Ontario shows 23 people in Waterloo region died from opioid use in the first six months of 2016.

The program has received international attention as well. 

"We have over 100,000 hits from all over the world," said Patel. "It's obviously a world-wide issue with lots of professions and professionals who are facing this issue and are looking for ways to improve how they provide care."