Preparing Medical Students to lead a Sustainable Healthcare System

Tuesday, 11 June, 2013

Academic and professional health bodies have expressed concern that climate change, in its direct and indirect effects, will pose the greatest health risk of the 21st century. Yet education about the links between climate change, sustainability, health and healthcare in medical training is rare. This project, funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), enlisted medical students, academics and practitioners to explore and articulate priority learning outcomes and develop educational materials for sustainability in healthcare to use in medical schools across the UK and abroad. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and the Sustainable Healthcare Education network of medical schools surveyed existing teaching provision in UK medical schools, wrote up case studies of all the educational approaches used in all active medical schools, produced learning objectives by consensus in a national consultation process, and compiled an open access repository of teaching materials. The priority learning objectives, which we feel can be integrated into medical education without adding unduly to the curricular burden are: 1.To understand the impacts of environmental change on health 2.To understand the impacts of healthcare on the environment 3.To consider the ethical questions that arise from a duty to protect and promote the health of both current and future generations (such as balancing the immediate needs of a patient with the needs of future generations). The project has resulted in a more international network of medical education institutes committed to piloting and evaluating educational activities and a wider network of other health professionals (in particular nursing and occupational therapy). For more information see Case Studies: UK medical school teaching on sustainability, climate & health. Sustainable Healthcare Education Network and Medsin Healthy Planet UK,