Teaching and learning on sustainable healthcare
The key learning outcomes for sustainable healthcare
- Describe how the environment and human health interact at different levels
- Demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to improve the environmental sustainability of health systems
- 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
Education on sustainable health and healthcare can therefore be framed as understanding how the environment impacts on health (eg air pollution as a risk factor for respiratory disease), the impact of healthcare on the environment (eg the carbon footprint of prescribing), ways to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare (eg lower carbon inhalers) and health promotion strategies (eg physical activity to improve mental health).
The General Medical Council Outcomes for Graduates state 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”.
Undergraduate curriculum at BSMS
Teaching on sustainable health and healthcare in the undergraduate curriculum includes:
- Year 1: ‘Environment and Health’ session looks at the interactions between the environment and health using air pollution as an example.
- Year 2: ‘Sustainable Healthcare’ which examines the impact of healthcare on the environment and ways in which healthcare can be made more sustainable
- Year 3: ‘Sustainable prescribing’ identifies the significant contribution made by prescribing to the NHS carbon footprint and identifies ways to reduce this including medicines optimisation and changing inhalers.
- Year 4: The ‘Climate change and Health’ session in the Global health day looks at the global health threat posed by climate change. The half day session on ‘Sustainable healthcare’ examines in more detail the ways that healthcare impacts on the environment and uses case studies from the NHS to demonstrate how sustainable healthcare practice and Quality Improvement (QI) can reduce these impacts and improve patients experience. Within their placements in ENT / neuro and ophthalmology in module 402, students are required to identify examples of waste (either physical or wasted clinical activity) and facilitated discussions examine how Sus-QI can be used to reduce this waste and lead to more sustainable clinical practice.
Educational Events: SHARE Conference 2024
The SHARE conference, organised jointly between University of Brighton School of Sport and Health Sciences, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and BSMS, is an annual conference which aims to share good practice between healthcare professionals, students and service users on topics related to sustainability and health and healthcare practice. SHARE 2024 will take place online on Tuesday 25 June 2024, 10am-4:30pm BST. Find out more, book your place and watch recordings from previous SHARE conferences now.
Register for share conference 2024 here >
Green Medicine Society
The BSMS Green Medicine Society is a student-run organisation that raises awareness of the impact that climate change has on health and also the impact that healthcare has on climate change and the wider environment, as well as looking at ways to make healthcare more sustainable. They run talks, seminars, workshops and extracurricular events to promote medical student engagement in planetary health. If you would like to join or get involved, please contact the society at email@example.com or follow them on social media.