2015 Award

The American Pain Society has selected the UC Davis Center for Pain Medicine as a 2015 Clinical Center of Excellence.  The award recognizes pain-care teams that provide outstanding, exemplary care for those with chronic pain disorders, acute pain after surgery or trauma, as well as in palliative care settings for pain from cancer and other terminal conditions.

Faculty and staff at the UC Davis Center for Pain Medicine

Designation as a clinical center of excellence is the highest recognition that a pain center can receive nationally. Known for taking on the most difficult cases of acute, cancer-related and chronic pain in adults and children, UC Davis pain-treatment specialists work with patients and their primary-care clinicians and referring physicians to provide for those suffering from all forms of pain. The Center for Pain Medicine emphasizes a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to care along with innovative research, clinical education and training, and patient advocacy to improve public policy.

“Being named a national center of excellence is truly an ensemble award and a great honor for our program,” said Scott Fishman, professor and chief of the UC Davis Division of Pain Medicine. “The award recognizes the impressive breadth of work UC Davis is doing to help patients cope with and overcome pain. Our pain medicine team is able to provide seamless, evidence-based care, including medical, surgical, psychiatric, psychological, social and alternative forms of pain management.”

Diverse expertise in pain management

The UC Davis team is distinguished from other programs around the country by their diverse backgrounds that bring a wide range of clinical professions and disciplines to bear on the care of patients in pain (including internal medicine, anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, addiction medicine, pediatric pain, hospice and palliative care, radiology, psychology, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, bioethics, acupuncture/oriental medicine and meditation-based stress reduction).  This diversity spills over into their research and advocacy work.

Interprofessional education

One example is the center's collaboration with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis -- as well as the Mayday Fund, the Macy Foundation and the Milbank Foundation -- to develop pain-education competencies across all health-care professional schools. With its goal to increase clinicians' basic skills in pain management, the initiative has received international recognition.

“Pain is an ideal topic to address from an interprofessional perspective," said Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing and dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. "Every health professional comes in contact with individuals and their family members coping with pain. We all need to have a basic understanding of pain so we can provide appropriate care. By working together to develop these basic skills, we gain multiple perspectives on a very complex topic."

Innovative behavioral pain-care team

Pain management is well integrated within UC Davis Health System’s primary and specialty services in both its hospital and outpatient clinical settings. It is designed to address the broadest possible physical, psychological and social needs of patients. Among the center’s innovative initiatives was the establishment of a behavioral pain-care team led by a psychiatrist and internist, a psychologist and social worker, all of whom work full time within the pain center to offer individualized care as well as group-setting opportunities for cognitive behavioral therapy, resilience and lifestyle education, and general support.

“Every person’s battle with pain is unique,” added Fishman. “The best way to help patients regain control of their lives is to provide comprehensive expertise and services. Effective pain management that increases function and decreases pain requires an individualized-care approach that taps into the wide variety of resources and specialists we have here.”

Sharing pain management expertise with others

UC Davis pain specialists also consider each clinical encounter an opportunity to guide and educate the referring clinical team, including those outside of Sacramento. As an example, UC Davis is in the midst of a special training project for rural Medicaid-based health systems using the university’s renowned telehealth expertise. The program is funded through the California Healthcare Foundation and harnesses video-conferencing technologies to provide “Tele-mentoring” educational opportunities for rural health centers. The goal is to help develop primary-care centers of excellence in remote communities that currently have minimal pain management resources.

“Pain management expertise must not reside only in large urban medical centers,” said Fishman. “We have a long tradition of providing pain education and training throughout our health system as well as sharing that expertise with other health providers and professional organizations. Advancing high quality pain management, locally, regionally and nationally has been a central mission at UC Davis. This national designation as a center of excellence not only reflects the passion of our center for safe and effective pain relief for all, but also highlights a health system that has uniquely committed to interprofessional and multidisciplinary integration to offer real hope for improving quality of life.”

About the Clinical Centers of Excellence Awards Program

The American Pain Society established its Centers of Excellence program in 2006 to showcase progressive teams of health professionals who address critical, and sometimes unmet, needs in pain management. The program also aims to identify U.S.-based, multidisciplinary teams providing distinguished, comprehensive pain care to serve as examples to other pain management programs.


2010 Award

It was a rare honor to recently receive notice of our designation by the American pain Society as a National Center of Excellence in Pain Medicine.  This award recognizes quality pain-care programs that offer outstanding treatments and therapies for patients suffering from chronic pain disorders and acute pain after surgery or trauma, as well as for people in palliative care settings who face pain from cancer and other terminal conditions.  We are proud of our service to UC Davis, the Sacramento region and beyond.

Drs. Mahajan and Fishman accepted the 2010 Center of Excellence Award from American Pain Society President Charles Inturrisi.