Educating for Sustainable Healthcare - Priority Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe how the environment and human health interact at different levels.

  2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to improve the environmental sustainability of health systems.

  3. Discuss how the duty of a doctor to protect and promote health is shaped by the dependence of human health on the local and global environment.

(Click here to download as a word document - includes expanded learning outcomes with additional detail).


These priority learning outcomes were developed by the SHE Network in response to a request from the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2011 and were refined through a national consultation in 2012-13.  In the consultation, draft learning outcomes were disseminated and structured feedback requested from all UK medical schools, Royal Colleges, post-graduate deaneries, and major medical organisations. Sixty-four organisations responded to the questionnaire online or by telephone. In a second phase, revised outcomes were further modified at a seminar attended by 33 educationalists from a diversity of backgrounds. A working group collated feedback into a substantially revised draft that was disseminated to all participants for final review. The resulting consensus learning outcomes were published in the Lancet in November 2014, and are now referenced under "Further Reading" from the GMC's Outcomes for graduates 2018, which states that “newly qualified doctors must be able to apply the principles, methods and knowledge of population health and the improvement of health and sustainable healthcare to medical practice.” 

Whilst broadly following the structure of the GMC’s Outcomes for graduates, they provide a template for both undergraduate and postgraduate training. Additional, expanded outcomes are provided to illustrate some of the more detailed knowledge and skills that could be covered within each of the three priority outcomes.

Although sustainability requires some new curricular material, it is primarily a perspective through which to approach existing topics, such as health inequalities and medical leadership. The learning outcomes have been designed to promote critical thinking, and development of the skills necessary to respond to change and uncertainty. 

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