Board of Directors
Robert C. Sherrick, MD, FASAM
Candidate for Director At Large
Robert C. Sherrick, MD, FASAM has been providing Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder since 2003, initially in an office setting using buprenorphine and naltrexone and subsequently with methadone in Opioid Treatment Programs. In 2009, he established a state-wide buprenorphine treatment program for VA Montana with extensive use of telemedicine.
He is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Addiction Medicine through the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is currently President of the Northwest Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Candidate Questionnaire Responses
1. What have been your greatest contributions to ASAM or to the field of addiction medicine over the last 10 years?
My primary contributions to the field of addiction medicine as a Board-Certified Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine physician have been in these areas:
Clinical practice – I have been treating patients with all types of substance use disorders (SUDs), inpatient and outpatient, with state of the art, compassionate care for 25 years. This continues to be my passion - improving patient outcomes.
Administration and Clinical Leadership – I established a buprenorphine practice for VA Montana, covering the entire state via telemedicine. We were one of the first programs in the US using telemedicine for this purpose.
As Chief Medical Officer for Community Medical Services (CMS), I have led our medical group as we have expanded from 6 clinics in 2 states to now over 50 clinics in 10 states. This has involved protocol development, outcome review, and overall medical operations management, ensuring that CMS is delivering state of the art care in Addiction Medicine treatment. I participated in the establishment of the first Opioid Treatment Program that is open 24/7 and able to admit patients at any time.
Provider training – Since becoming Chief Medical Officer of CMS, I have had the opportunity to train physicians, nurse-practitioners, and physician assistants, and have written a comprehensive training manual for Opioid Treatment Program providers. I am on the faculty for the ASAM Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine course, have taught the course many times, and have contributed to the development of the curriculum.
Advocacy – I have been active in my state medical society, currently serving as Treasurer and sitting on the Substance Use Disorder Committee, Legislative Committee, and Executive Committee. I reactivated the Northwest ASAM state chapter (comprised of Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming) and have served as President of the chapter for the last 4 years. I have worked on community outreach, speaking in many forums throughout our state including medical settings, community meetings, gatherings of police officers and social workers. I have traveled to our state capital to speak before the Montana legislature advocating for increased access to SUD treatment.
Research – At Community Medical Services we have developed a database of over 30,000 OTP admissions with data concerning patient outcomes over time. I am in the process of analyzing this data and applying it to new initiatives to improve patient outcomes at CMS. I am currently working with several colleagues at academic institutions to formalize and publish findings from this database.
2. How would your election to the ASAM Board of Directors benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?
I have been a member for over 20 years, and ASAM has been a valuable source of information, guidance, and encouragement for me in my development over my career. It is my hope to be able to give back to ASAM by serving as an at-large member of the Board. I am committed to helping ASAM continue to be a vital resource to providers of Addiction Medicine and to patients with substance use disorders.
I believe my most important contribution is a firsthand understanding of the challenges facing Addiction Medicine providers in all settings – office, clinic, and inpatient. I believe that ASAM has a tremendous amount to offer its members. The biggest challenge for most providers is time - and the increasing stresses on all providers such as using EMRs, documentation requirements for billing, maintaining an office, the need to see more patients in less time, etc. Many providers are too busy or overwhelmed to start an office-based buprenorphine practice. ASAM has a key role in helping providers of medication for Opioid Use Disorder and reducing barriers for patients in accessing this life-saving treatment.
I believe that the foundation of success for treating patients with SUDs is empathy - being able to understand your patient's situation and reflect that back to them. Communicating empathy takes skill and time, but it can also be rewarding and help prevent burnout. I believe that ASAM can have a significant role in training providers in the skills of Motivational Interviewing and how best to approach patients with SUDs beyond the strict medical knowledge necessary. I believe that those providing care to this population of complex and sometimes difficult patients need encouragement and support.
ASAM has a major task in fighting stigma and discrimination against those who suffer from SUDs. Much of this stigma must be countered at a local level, with legislators, judges, police officers, and criminal justice workers. ASAM can help our members work with their communities and state medical societies to bring treatment to more patients when and where they need it. I have had tremendous support from ASAM in my career and as a Board Member would seek to extend that to others as well. I thank you for your votes for me for at-large ASAM Board member.