Opioid tapering can be a viable first step for clinicians seeking to limit the use of prescription painkillers for treating chronic pain. The next plausible step — ensuring availability of alternative therapies — is one that can pose many issues for prescribers.

Peter Learned Barelka, MD, graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in molecular biology, biochemistry, and the Russian language. He attended Georgetown University Medical School and completed the Georgetown Transitional Medical Internship. He then completed his anesthesiology residency and a pain medicine fellowship at Stanford University.

TRENDING ON CPA: How to Overcome Pain Resource Challenges: Part 1 

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Dr. Barelka joined the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) in 2008 and works as both a clinical anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician. He currently serves in the capacity of the clinical chief of the pain clinic and is co-chair of the VAPAHCS Pain Committee.

“The Refill” is a Q&A column designed to provide Clinical Pain Advisor’s readership with clinical perspective and suggestions for operating a pain management practice.

This is part 2 of our exclusive interview with Dr. Barelka.

Clinical Pain Advisor: How do you market your practice?

Dr. Barelka: The VA is not a traditional health care provider [facing] competition from other insurers or care providers. The VA is essentially a socialized medicine construct with all the means of delivering care provided by the federal government. That is not to say that we have no requirement for marketing. Our marketing takes the form of informing other services of the specialty care we can provide their patients with chronic pain. This includes participation in the educational lecture series for the primary care providers, or even directly sharing clinical time with other providers such as in our spine clinic.