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Nurses Answer the Call on Climate Change

A new, nurse-led MGH Institute of Health Professions initiative tackles the effects of climate change – which the United Nations (UN) calls a dire threat to global human health.

The Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health – the first initiative of its kind spearheaded by nurses – will leverage education, research, and advocacy to bring attention to the impact of climate change on population health, while convening leaders in the field for public discourse and advocacy. It brings together the scholarly work of 10 MGH Institute nursing faculty, many of whom have published on the subject – including Assistant Professor Suellen Breakey, PhD; Professor Inge Corless, PhD; and Professor Patrice Nicholas, DNSc, whose co-authored textbook, Global Health Nursing in the 21st Century, was the first to present the successes, challenges, and opportunities of global health nursing.

The Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health will bring attention to the impact of climate change on population health.

“Many health care professionals are unaware of how climate change will affect their professional positions, but the effects already are apparent with such things as higher rates of asthma from air pollution and an increase in health issues that arise after natural disasters,” said Dr. Breakey.

A recent UN report recommended “far-reaching and unprecedented change” to human behavior to stave off the devastating impacts of climate change by 2040. According to MGH Institute Dean Inez Tuck, PhD, the Center will foster integration of content relevant to climate change, climate justice, and health in educational curricula. It will also prepare health professionals for the impacts of climate change on patients, families, and communities in clinical practice, as well as deepen the MGH Institute’s commitment to research and scholarship.

“We can work together in our roles as teachers, clinicians, policy makers, scientists, and environmentalists to address these pressing issues,” explains Tuck.