ANHE 2021 Student Nurse Committee Call to Action
The 2021 Student Nurse Committee developed a call to action asking nursing faculty and schools of nursing to commit to integrating climate and health content into undergraduate and graduate nursing courses. To support the call to action, they interviewed nursing faculty who has successfully integrate this content into nursing sources and have compiled resources for nursing faculty interested in embarking on this endeavor. The below call to action is what was sent to their respective schools of nursing.
Nursing students have the power to call on nursing schools to address the gaps within nursing curriculum. The 2021 Student Nurse Committee encourages you to reach out to your respective school of nursing to request climate and health be included in nursing programs. You can use this template to personalize an email to nursing faculty at your school. If your institution is already a participating member of the Nurses Climate Challenge School of Nursing Commitment, please consider sending them a thank you letter for taking this step. Use this template to personalize a thank you email to nursing faculty at your school.
Interview with Professor Jessica LeClair, MPH, RN
Members of the 2021 Student Nurse Committee interviewed Jessica LeClair, a clinical faculty member at the University of Wisconsin- Madison School of Nursing, about her experience leading and incorporating planetary health content into her students’ nursing school curricula.
What inspired you to implement a planetary health course into your school’s nursing curriculum?
While working as a public health nurse, Jessica witnessed how much climate change and racial justice plays out in the community setting. In 2014, she returned to school to receive her Master of Public Health, focusing on the intersection of climate health and equity. Although it was validating to see that people knew about and were studying these topics, she still felt alone as a nurse. Jessica then learned about the Alliance of Nurse for Healthy Environments, and after frustration about how to integrate these concepts into her work, she turned to a mentor from the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing (SoN). Her mentor encouraged her to join the school’s nursing faculty, so she could empower future nurses who engage in these efforts. Jessica never saw herself teaching or doing research, however she felt inspired to join the faculty because she felt as though she can have a greater impact and be more effective with her passion if she can help support future nurses with this work surrounding planetary health. When UW’s SoN initiated a curriculum revamp, they designed a new social justice course. Jessica was invited to teach in this social justice course to launch and integrate her concerns about planetary health and climate justice into the new curriculum as exemplars.
How did you go about making this change?
Jessica feels lucky in being able to implement this change. She believes leadership is key no matter where you are, as they must understand how planetary health is important to nursing. Jessica is currently working on trying to make this sustainable. There’s no planetary health concept in the school’s concept-based curriculum. However, there is interest from the dean of UW SoN to look at how aligned the school is with planetary health concepts while they review the new AACN essentials. Jessica is excited for these opportunities to further embed planetary health across the entire curriculum and possibly add it as a concept that is assigned to courses.
How do you think your course has helped students?
Jessica says that as a teacher, you don’t really know what impact you are making to your students unless they reach out. Fortunately, there are a handful of students who follow up with Jessica each year because they want to get more involved and connect to more resources. Jessica has received wonderful feedback from students over the years, including some who are now receiving their MPH and feel inspired to embed climate justice work into their hospital and healthcare systems. They credit what they learned in Jessica’s class for validating the reality of these concepts in the nursing field. Jessica says this is what keeps her going and engaged with her work.
What advice do you have for other professors/schools wanting to include a planetary health course in school?
Jessica recommends networking with schools that have similar courses to get ideas of what works and to build a network of support. She also mentions a network that has already been formed through the Nurses Climate Challenge- the School of Nursing Commitment. This is a network of nursing schools around the nation that are integrating climate change and/or other planetary health concepts into their curriculum. She recommends connecting with this network of professors and deans. There are also several other organizations and efforts of educators and clinicians working to integrate planetary health into practice and education, such as the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and the Planetary Health Alliance. Overall, Jessica emphasizes that the key is to not feel alone and to reach out to colleagues.
American Nurses Association Principles of Environmental Health for Nursing Practice: The ANA Principles guide the formation of the nursing curriculum in various courses and provide the principles that we hope nurses adhere to once graduated. This link on page 17, provides principles that show the importance of environmental health “1. Knowledge of environmental health concepts is essential to nursing practice.” We urge institutions to look over these principles and create a curriculum that is consistent with ANA standards, as is the expectation in other nursing courses.
National Student Nurses' Association Resolutions on Climate & Health: To further show the desire to see more integration of environmental health and climate justice into nursing school programs and the profession as a whole, students have created NSNA resolutions relating to the topics.
- NSNA Resolution #18 (2019) IN SUPPORT OF IMPROVING MEDICAL WASTE MANAGEMENT DUE TO CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ENVIRONMENTAL AND PERSONAL HEALTH
- NSNA Resolution #24 (2019) IN SUPPORT OF INCREASING AWARENESS OF THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON MENTAL HEALTH
- NSNA Resolution #20 (2021) IN SUPPORT OF EDUCATION GUIDING THE REDUCTION OF CARBON EMISSIONS CREATED BY HEALTHCARE FACILITIES
Getting to a Greener, Healthier World by 2030: Solutions from Healthcare Professionals – Special issue of Journal of Climate Change and Health
Journal of Pediatric Healthcare: special issue on planetary health and environmental justice
Curriculum Development Resources for Faculty:
- Developing curriculum recommendations for environmental health in nursing
- Integrating environmental health into an undergraduate community health nursing course
- 12 tips for teaching environmental sustainability to medical professionals
- Incorporating environmental health approaches in the nursing curriculum: A systematic review of the literature
- Integrating climate change into nursing curricula
- The mandate for the Nursing Profession to Address Climate Change Through Nursing Education
- Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (Syllabi, Case Studies, Program Plans, Lesson Plan Documents)
- Planetary Health Alliance's Planetary Health Education Framework
- Strategies for Incorporating Climate Change into Nursing Curricula: This resource provides climate-related content and teaching strategies that can be applied to specific classes and content areas that already exist in nursing school curricula, such as medical-surgical nursing, fundamentals of nursing practice, pathophysiology, and health assessment.
- CAMEL is a free, comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-media resource for educators, providing over 300 interdisciplinary topic areas and numerous resource types to give the educator the tools they need to teach climate change causes, consequences, solutions and actions. The educator is able to create courses, textbooks, administer exams and surveys, invite others and collaborate around teaching materials, strategies and assessment. CAMEL was created by the National Council for Science and the Environment with funding from the National Science Foundation
Additional ANHE specific resources:
- ANHE Education Forum: This group is dedicated to the collaboration and incorporation of environmental health nursing education in both academia and clinical practice.
- E-Textbook- Environmental Health in Nursing: This free e-textbook, created by leading environmental health nursing experts, offers essential environmental health content for nursing education and practice.