Dr. Omar Abubaker, an Oral and Facial Surgeon, Professor and department Chairman at Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, has spent the last 27 years passionately teaching students at VCU’s School of Dentistry and Medicine. He is also a father whose life has been directly impacted by this current opioid epidemic. On September 27, 2014, Omar’s son Adam overdosed in the early morning from heroin at age 21.
Two years after his son’s death, Virginia declared opioid addiction a public health emergency. Immediately after the state’s emergency declaration, the Virginia Board of Dentistry asked him to help develop new opioid prescription guidelines for dentists. At Virginia Commonwealth University, Abubaker and his team designed a continuing education course that combines the new guidelines with evidence-based research on acute pain management. Since these regulations became effective, he has traveled the state to teach and emphasize their importance to more than 500 dentists including dental students, physicians and nurses. His goal is that each practitioner who leaves his class will be less inclined to prescribe excessive opioids, perhaps guarding one more son or daughter against the harm of narcotics.