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European project aims to boost teaching of sustainability agenda in nursing

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A new toolkit is being launched to help nurses and health professionals throughout Europe embed sustainability into their teaching and learning.

It is intended to help fill a current education gap in teaching student nurses about the connections between resources, climate change, sustainability and health.

“Nurses can act as powerful agents for change in the use of health resources”

Janet Richardson

Known as the NurSus TOOLKIT, the online platform provides free materials designed to “put climate change and sustainability at the heart” of healthcare training.

The toolkit offers lectures and activities that can be adapted to meet the needs of students studying subjects such as geography, design, nursing, midwifery, environment, public health, and health planning and management.

For example, one exercise asks students to consider how they could continue to deliver healthcare if equipment made from plastic was no longer available.

Other activities are designed to make links between staying healthy and caring for the environment.

The toolkit is the outcome of a three-year collaboration between the University of Plymouth and universities in Germany, Spain and The Netherlands.

The content of the toolkit is based on evidence from literature, nurse education experts and student groups, and is available in six languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Polish.

Project lead Janet Richardson, professor of health service research at Plymouth, said: “Nurse educators are currently poorly prepared to teach students about the connections between resources, climate change, sustainability and health – and this new toolkit can help change that.

“Nursing is one of the largest professions in the continent; nurses can act as powerful agents for change in the use of health resources,” said Professor Richardson.

NurSus/Plymouth University

Call to put climate change at ‘heart’ of nurse education

Pictured are academics from the universities who worked on NurSus TOOLKIT. Professor Janet Richardson is third from left

“Although climate change is a huge challenge in health care, this new resource – and its unique opportunity to integrate sustainability within nursing curricula – will help nurses and health professionals face it,” she said.

Professor Richardson added that sustainable development was the theme of this year’s International Nurses’ Day, with the International Council of Nurses having made the green agenda a priority.

“It’s been an important three years researching, developing and refining the resources, and we hope the NurSusTOOLKIT will help educators raise awareness among health professionals, as well as provide resources and activities to develop sustainability skills,” he said.

Dr David Pencheon, director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, funded by NHS England and Public Health England, backed new the toolkit.

“Climate change is the biggest strategic threat to public health in the 21st Century, but also, if we act together now, the biggest health opportunity for the 21st Century,” noted Dr Pencheon.

“We need to make sustainability a core dimension of quality of care, and this NurSusTOOLKIT is important for the education of nurses to help them do exactly that,” he said.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Sustainability is something everyone should be concerned about. Treating our world with care and conserving wildlife and flora. However that is not the same as climate change which implies the change in temperatures is down to man, when climate change has been occurring for 'ever' even before man was around. I would be more convinced about the concept of man made climate change if those who were sceptical of it were not ostracized and prevented from obtaining any funding to further their research.

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