What’s going on here?

Medical students are demanding their curriculum includes the climate crisis and prepares them for dealing with the corresponding health crisis.

What does this mean?

A final year medical student at Oxford, Hannah Chase, was disturbed by the lack of teaching on climate change in her course last year. With the support of colleagues, she embarked on a campaign to get UK medical schools to ask their students to rate how well the school incorporates climate change and sustainability in the curriculum.

The findings showed that the majority of the 30 UK medical schools rated, scored a ‘C’ suggesting that more focus on climate would be welcomed by medical students.

The group of Oxford medical students requested that their faculty adequately prepare them to provide sustainable healthcare in their future work. Consequently, classes on the subject are now planned for first and second year medical students beginning in 2022.

Why should we care?

Climate change is the greatest threat to global health this century (The Lancet). The Centre for sustainable healthcare shows some of the impacts of climate change on human health in this chart:

Nurses and doctors are the most trusted professions in Britain – 93% of the public say they trust nurses to tell the truth; it’s 91% for Doctors. Therefore both medical professionals of the future and the current workforce need to be supported with education on the climate crisis.

The NHS has pledged to become carbon net zero by 2040 for the emissions they control directly. A new, Greener NHS team is leading on taking action for system change, gathering data and building networks. All the while, aiming to inspire the 1.3million NHS staff to take action at work and at home. With around 4% of the country’s carbon emissions, and over 7% of the economy, the NHS has an essential role to play in responding to the climate crisis.

Educating trusted professionals must be at the centre of this and, in my opinion, will have a positive ripple effect through our communities.

*Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, the article title was too catchy not to use!

Be curious

–          If you’re a student and feel your course does not include adequate content on climate – be inspired by this story to speak up and ask for more

–          If you’re working, you could ask your employer for climate training opportunities relevant to your job

–          Learn more about sustainable health care at the Centre for Sustainable healthcare charity Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

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