The ATTAC-IT Program is a component of the overall UF AHEC Tobacco Training and Cessation (ATTAC) Program. UF AHEC is part of a statewide Network of AHECs funded to provide tobacco training and cessation throughout the State of Florida. The overall goal of the ATTAC Program is to strengthen the capacity of Florida’s healthcare system to deliver effective evidence-based tobacco use treatment, cessation, and prevention services throughout the state. This is done in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs.
ATTAC-IT’s goal is to ensure that all health professions students receive tobacco education during the course of their program providing them with the skills necessary to work with patients and clients in tobacco cessation.
Health professions students (HPS) are targeted because most health care providers traditionally receive insufficient education in tobacco to be able to effect patient behavior change in the treatment of tobacco dependence. Middle school students are the other target group. With 90% of tobacco initiation beginning prior to the age of 18, it is important to reach children early in life, preferably before they have been faced with the decision of whether or not to use tobacco. The appeal of HPS as role models for youth is a crucial component of the Program. Conversely, HPS placed as educators in middle school classrooms will be motivated to learn the material more thoroughly and in ways that may also affect their personal and professional behavior. This double-pronged approach focuses on provision of accurate didactic information to interdisciplinary groups of HPS from universities, colleges, and vocational technology schools, as well as provision of engaging, age-appropriate tobacco prevention education for middle school students.
An Annual Learning Event: The Afternoon of Learning for HPS is the first component, which typically occurs within the first few weeks of the students beginning their health professions’ programs. This training session focuses on the science, epidemiology, and treatment of tobacco addiction. After completing individual preparatory materials, the students come together in a large-group lecture to reinforce and expand on this information. Included in this is an introduction to motivational interviewing techniques. Small-group cooperative learning activities are also included in the training. Combining a mix of Medical, Dental, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Public Health, and other HPS where possible lends strength both to the academic program and future bridging of gaps between healthcare disciplines. The skills learned in the session can also be applied to other areas of health risk behaviors.
An Applied Learning Day or Service Day: The second component of this project reinforces the tobacco Afternoon of Learning by sending the trained HPS into the community in teaching teams of two to four students to engage middle school youth in tobacco prevention education and activities. Groups take a kit of classroom teaching aids featuring a trigger videotape consisting of five to six vignettes to area middle school classrooms. For many HPS this is their first experience providing health education, a role that is an important part of their future practice as health professionals.
Since 2007, the UF AHEC Program has trained over 5,000 health professions students and provided an anti-tobacco message to over 73,000 middle school youth in its 37 county region.
Funding for the UF AHEC Tobacco Training and Cessation Program Afternoon of Learning is provided through the Florida Department of Health as part of Florida’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. Funding for the Day of Service is provided as part of a collaborative HRSA grant through the UF College of Dentistry.
For more information on the ATTAC-IT Program, or if you are a teacher who would like to host a team of health professions students, please contact: