HEALTH PROFESSIONALS PROMOTING AND PRACTICING ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE HEALTHCARE
Background: In 2019, the WHO identified climate change and air pollution as the top global threat to health. This was illustrated by the health consequences of the catastrophic 2019-20 Australian bushfire season. Health-care systems also contribute to climate change and environmental degradation. For Australia, health care contributes 7% of total carbon emissions and produces considerable clinical and non-clinical waste which is either incinerated or sent to landfill. Despite these threats to health, there is a limited response by health professions education to include climate change and environmentally sustainable healthcare in curricula
Aim: To develop appropriate graduate outcome statements and learning objectives for Climate Change and Health curricula
Methods: In 2017 collaboration of medical schools in Australia and New Zealand and medical student representative organisations from both countries, came together to develop curriculum and learning resources. The scope for curriculum was defined by searching the literature, reviewing teaching experience, and benchmarking against relevant courses developed for medical students by peers. Graduate outcome statements and learning objectives were developed aligned with key broad areas of learning. These were circulated to all medical schools in 2018 to inform curriculum review. Ways to measure and monitor inclusion in medical programs are being researched. Initiatives adopted in other health curricula, including environmental health are being compiled. A resource repository is being developed to support curriculum change.
Results: It was determined that Graduate Outcome Statements (GOS) and learning objectives should cover five broad areas of learning:
- the principles of anthropogenic climate change and how this relates to the environmental determinants of health
- health impacts of climate change
- the impact of climate change on the health system
- the environmental impact of the health sector and what comprises environmentally sustainable healthcare, and
- creating change, both intra- and intersectorally, through advocacy and leadership.
- Contemporary medical and broader health professional education must prepare graduates for climate change and environmentally sustainable healthcare;
- By working collaboratively at a systems level, change can occur at pace and scale.
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