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J Public Health Res. 2016 Apr 26;5(1):673. doi: 10.4081/jphr.2016.673. eCollection 2016 Apr 26.

Teaching About Climate Change in Medical Education: An Opportunity.

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1
The Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne , Australia.

Abstract

Climate change threatens many of the gains in development and health over the last century. However, it could also be a catalyst for a necessary societal transformation to a sustainable and healthy future. Doctors have a crucial role in climate change mitigation and health system adaptation to prepare for emergent health threats and a carbon-constrained future. This paper argues that climate change should be integrated into medical education for three reasons: first, to prepare students for clinical practice in a climate-changing world; secondly, to promote public health and eco-health literacy; and finally, to deepen existing learning and strengthen graduate attributes. This paper builds on existing literature and the authors' experience to outline potential learning objectives, teaching methods and assessment tasks. In the wake of recent progress at the United Nations climate change conference, COP-21, it is hoped that this paper will assist universities to integrate teaching about climate change into medical education. Significance for public healthThere is a strong case for teaching about climate change in medical education. Anthropogenic climate change is accepted by scientists, governments and health authorities internationally. Given the dire implications for human health, climate change is of fundamental relevance to future doctors. Integrating climate change into medical education offers an opportunity for future doctors to develop skills and insights essential for clinical practice and a public health role in a climate-changing world. This echoes a broader call for improved public health literacy among medical graduates. This paper provides medical schools with a rationale and an outline for teaching on climate change.

KEYWORDS:

Climate change; eco-health; health policy; medical education; public health

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