UC Davis Offers Free Online Course to Help Clinicians Prevent Firearm Injuries

By Carol Davis

The University of California, Davis is offering a free online continuing education course to help clinicians and other healthcare providers prevent firearm injury.

Training is provided by the BulletPoints Project at UC Davis, a program that teaches clinicians how to discuss the risks of firearm access with their patients and to intervene when someone is at increased risk.

The course explains how to have conversations with patients who have access to firearms and may be at risk of interpersonal violence, unintentional injury, or suicide, or unintentional injury, according to UC Davis. It also teaches clinicians how to intervene based on the type and level of risk of firearm violence.

“Clinicians play an important role in shaping public perceptions about safety and injury prevention,” said Amy Barnhorst, director of the BulletPoints Project, and vice chair for clinical services at the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry.

“The same way a healthcare provider might ask a patient about smoking cigarettes, or a pediatrician might ask about car seats, they can also talk to their patients about firearms in a nonpartisan, nonjudgmental way,” Barnhorst said.

The online course, Preventing Firearm Injury: What Clinicians Can Do, takes about an hour and features scenarios where a patient may be at risk of firearm violence, including suicide, intimate partner violence, mass shooting, and unintentional shooting.

The course walks clinicians through each scenario and provides intervention resource options, such as safe gun storage, temporary transfer of firearms, civil protective orders—also known as “red flag laws” or gun violence restraining orders—and mental health holds, known as 5150.

Clinicians also learn how to talk about the risks and interventions in culturally and politically neutral ways, according to UC Davis.

In 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. That same year, 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides involved firearms.

“The solution to our epidemic of gun violence is multifaceted and complex, and will take changes in policy, education, healthcare, school, and media,” Barnhorst said. “Educating healthcare providers is an important piece of the puzzle.”

Healthcare providers who complete the course can receive one hour of Continuing Medical Education (CME) through the California Medical Association or Continuing Education (CE) credits through the American Psychological Association.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.