Could Where A Doctor Went To School Influence The Way They Prescribe Opioids?

Physicians are more likely to prescribe opioids depending on where they went to school, a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research has found. Specifically, physicians who went to lower ranking medical schools are more likely to prescribe opioids. Ivy league physicians or physicians from higher-ranking medical schools were less likely to prescribe opioids as a primary treatment. The research found that physicians from lower-ranking medical schools are prescribing almost three times as many opioid prescriptions per year.

Factors Of Schooling Making A Difference

What doctors learn about treatment influences the treatment they provide. One of the details of the opioid epidemic which has emerged in recent years is that doctors felt they didn’t know differently when it came to prescribing opioids. They were taught to relieve pain and symptoms of pain in their patients. Marketers of major pharmaceutical companies trained doctors in a way that led doctors to believe opioids were an answer for anything and shouldn’t be addictive. Following just what they were taught, these doctors feel today they should have acted differently in the past.


Doctors who attend higher ranking medical institutions may feel more empowered to make independent decisions based on their intuition. The hippocratic oath is taken by all doctors. Though the phrase “First, do no harm” is widely believed to be in the hippocratic oath, it does not actually appear, even in translation. Similar sentiment does, however, in which doctors take an oath to “utterly reject harm and mischief”. Doctors who are trained to rely solely on information rather than intuition may firmly believe that they are doing no harm because they are, quite literally, going by the book. Without being trained to pay more attention to their intuition, they do harm by ignoring the signs of addiction, for instance, when they are prescribing opioids. Researchers believe that the way doctors are trained give them more intuition to act on their best knowledge for doing no harm rather than the knowledge of books, peers, or marketers. Part of that difference might be the result of more evidence-based training, more resources, more mentors, and more encouragement to continue education after graduation, according to Attn.

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