Hollings to host first-ever tobacco treatment specialist training

March 02, 2022
Hollings hopes to decrease smoking rates in South Carolina by training more tobacco treatment specialist.
Hollings hopes to decrease smoking rates in South Carolina by training more tobacco treatment specialists.

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is hosting a new training to increase the number of tobacco treatment specialists in South Carolina. The four-day MUSC tobacco treatment specialist training is designed for health care professionals who work in various settings, including primary care, behavioral health and oncology.

Benjamin Toll 
Benjamin Toll, Ph.D.

Benjamin Toll, Ph.D., director of the Tobacco Treatment Program at MUSC and co-director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program, said the training is a new way to combat the prevalence of tobacco use in the state.

“We have a large group of tobacco treatment experts and practitioners here at MUSC and Hollings. We should be spreading the knowledge to help to train health care workers across the state to improve the health of our residents and, ultimately, reduce the burden of cancer in our state,” Toll said. “This training fits perfectly and aligns well with our strengths in Hollings’ Cancer Control Research Program.”

The training comes at a pivotal time as Hollings continues efforts to reduce the tobacco-use rate through its well-established smoking cessation program, which was expanded to MUSC regional hospitals in Florence, Marion, Chester and Lancaster in 2021. Research has shown that smoking rates in more rural areas are more than double those seen in Charleston. “We are on a mission to deliver tobacco treatment regardless of where the patient may live in the state,” Toll said. “One out of every three cancer deaths in the nation is linked to smoking. That’s why this is so important.”

The mission to reduce smoking rates in rural areas of South Carolina is personal for Bridget Harris, a tobacco treatment specialist at MUSC Health Lancaster and Chester medical centers. “As a professional observing societal change, tobacco education is a vital part of preventing the increase of smoking in our communities,” Harris said. “Our tobacco treatment training will provide extensive smoking cessation skills and tools that will reduce the risk of many adverse health effects.”

Demetress Adams-Ludd, a tobacco treatment specialist at MUSC Health Florence and Marion medical centers, said demand for smoking cessation services is increasing, making this training timely and important. “Participants will see there is much more involved than just telling tobacco users to quit,” she said. “Participants will learn about the importance of effective counseling interventions and pharmacotherapy to truly assist tobacco users in quitting.”

The training will take place March 28 to 31 in Charleston and will be led by Stephanie Stansell, Ph.D., a Hollings tobacco treatment specialist. “We are fortunate at MUSC to have so many experts in the tobacco cessation field. Providing this training allows us to share what we’ve learned and what we are doing with others across the state,” Stansell said. “People want to quit. We need to have more trained professionals to enable those individuals to have access to the best tobacco cessation treatment.”

The registration fee for the training is $1,200 and is open to health care professionals in areas of care that includes nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and mental health professionals.

“This low-cost training will add value to health care interactions with patients because many practitioners don’t feel comfortable or may not know the best ways to help patients quit smoking,” Toll said. “This brief four-day training will increase self-efficacy, knowledge and skills about delivery of tobacco treatment.”

Those interested in participating in the training should contact Stephanie Stansell at 843-792-1397 or by email at youngers@musc.edu.