About Us

Cara A. Poland, MD, MEd, DFASAM

Candidate for Director-at-Large

Biography and Statement

Cara A. Poland, MD, MEd, DFASAM

1. How would your election benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

I began medical school without the intention of going into addiction; it wasn’t until my residency at a community hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that I had great exposure to substance use disorders. I fell in love with the population and, as chief resident, applied to CRIT for additional training in Motivational Interviewing. Who knew that a four day weekend on Cape Cod would change the course of my professional career? I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the leading addiction specialists and, specifically, addiction educators.

My election would benefit ASAM by providing expertise in education across the UME-CME-GME continuum. In my university appointment, I successfully advocated for an entire week of curriculum dedicated solely to addiction medicine and an additional two days specifically to safe opioid prescribing in their pain curriculum. I’m an advocate for student wellness training, with the goal of working toward more prevention strategies amongst our future physician workforce. I’m known to be a multidisciplinary team player and was able to bring learners from both within my university and area universities to create a multidisciplinary simulation involving medical, nursing, social work, pharmacy and physical therapy students together.

In a Director-at-Large role, I would hope to bring this type of education to a broader community. I would continue to advocate for policy advancement at a State, Regional and National Level – utilizing some of my current connections with legislature and government leadership. I am confident in my ability to work on behalf of ASAM to continue to be the voice of Addiction Medicine.

2. What are your greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

As the Michigan Chapter President for ASAM, I’ve focused on re-building our chapter. Our leadership board has worked tirelessly to revitalize our chapter. We have successfully updated bylaws, reinstated its status as a non-profit, provided buprenorphine waiver trainings, planned and executed a conference, joined an opioid coalition at the State Level, written and impacted legislature in our State, staffed a Pain and Addiction ECHO and provided partnerships with community education programs.

Beyond MiSAM, I’ve presented for the last four consecutive years at the ASAM national meeting on topics that varied from MOC, as co-chair of the Addiction Medicine Foundations MOC Part IV committee, to drug court policies and procedures. I’ve worked with the legal advocacy committee both in my role at the State Of Michigan level and with our legislature members on the YOUTH Act (being introduced by a Michigan Senator). I’ve been a member of multiple task forces for ASAM, most proudly, the Addiction Medicine Integration Task Force. We sent recommendations to the ASAM Board of Directors on potential changes in the Society’s educational, governance and external collaborative activities.

Biographical Sketch

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously,” Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ve been fortunate to join the field of addiction medicine during an exciting period of growth that is energizing and engaging. I’m an Internal Medicine doctor as my primary board and a Boston University Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program graduate. Being born and raised in Michigan, my husband and I returned to Michigan after fellowship where I am currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine with a secondary appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Michigan State University.

In addition to being the Chief of a Learning Society (over one quarter of the first and second year students), I have a general addiction clinic, a women’s health addiction clinic and do some system-wide improvement around opioids for a community-hospital system, Spectrum Health, with a catchment area that includes the second largest city in Michigan as well as multiple surrounding rural counties. My areas of interest include education and policy/community advocacy. I have educational responsibilities across the UME-GME-CME continuum. This has allowed me to implement changes including additional SUD curriculum in the medical school, training the Family Medicine Residency Program in implementing a buprenorphine clinic, creating a OB/GYN rotation on opioid use disorders in pregnancy and creating a system-wide opioid committee in my hospital system.

In advocacy, I am the past-president of the Board of Directors for a community naloxone distribution organization (amongst other services including recovery coaches, case management, HIV/Hepatitis screening, condom distribution and needle exchange). I’ve also worked with state and national legislature on various initiatives including helping to implement a naloxone standing order through our DHHS, serving on a committee in our licensing office to update State MTP and OBOT regulations, advocating for formulary changes in Michigan Medicaid to remove barriers to care and amongst others.