Grantee perspectives from the Mayo Clinic Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification Program

Four Global Bridges grantees participated in the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification program in September. They shared perspectives and photos from the experience in Rochester, Minnesota.

Charis Girvalaki, doctoral candidate in the Clinic of Family Medicine at the University of Crete: 

TTS training was a great experience for me! Working in the field of tobacco treatment for a few years now as a PhD student (TiTAN CRETE) and as a project manager (EPACTT-2), TTS training was for sure an added value.

I had the opportunity to meet Mayo clinic experts and learn from their experience on how to work on both behavioral approach and pharmacotherapy. It really helped me improve my skills and knowledge and I would totally recommend it to any researcher, doctor or health care professional working in tobacco treatment.

Last but not least, I was very happy to get to meet and interact with many people from different cultures and backgrounds and share my experience but also learn from theirs! It also was a great opportunity to meet friends and colleagues from Global Bridges again and other grantees from Brazil-Portugal, Israel and Morocco. I totally recommend it to people interested in participating!

João Mauricio Castaldelli Maia, M.D., Ph.D., president of the ABC Center for Mental Health Studies and CEO of Clinica Clima in São Paulo, Brazil:

The TTS training was an amazing opportunity for me. First, I would like to comment on the material, which is indeed excellent. The handout is well organized by activities and lectures, making it a good material for consultation during and after the training. The language used in the lectures is clear and simple, making this educational activity accessible to non-native English speakers like me.

Despite presenting several topics within smoking cessation, this TTS training deeply covers the main topics of tobacco dependence treatment, which includes motivational interview, group therapy and pharmacological treatment. Interesting role-plays perfectly complement the lectures, keeping the training alive. The clinical study cases apply to the TTS day-by-day routine faced outside Mayo Clinic, and also outside the United States, which is commendable. For instance, the attendees learn from several experts (special thanks to Michael Burke and Jon Ebbert), who present their clinical experience in working at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center (NDC). The individualized treatment plan proposed by Mayo Clinic NDC is a good example of how tobacco dependence treatment can be performed in different ways, while always being evidence-based.

As a physician, I must admit highly benefiting from the psychotherapy part of the training (motivational interview and group therapy). The exercises on how to answer to change and sustained talk were critical to change my approach with the patients in my practice. The materials developed by Mayo Clinic for the patients also seem to be helpful, and make me think about doing something similar in my country, adapted to our treatment conditions.

Finally, the special populations selected for being presented there were really the most important and challenging, in my point of view (individuals with mental disorders, adolescents and women who are pregnant). Therese Shumaker is a great hostess both for American and foreign trainees, making us feel very comfortable, stimulating interaction and experience sharing among us. It was good to meet people from Africa, America, Europe and the Middle East taking training.

Tzvia Kessel, health promotion officer at Meuhedet Health Services in Israel, shared photos: