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Clin Teach. 2014 Jul;11(4):243-6. doi: 10.1111/tct.12141.

Sustainability in clinical skills teaching.

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Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, UK.



The deleterious effects of climate change mean that environmental sustainability is increasingly becoming a moral and economic necessity. Consequently, clinicians will increasingly be called upon to manage the effects of health care on climate change, and they must therefore do as much as is practically possible to limit the negative effects of their practice on the environment. As medical educators we have the opportunity not only to reduce the environmental impact of our own clinical practice, but also that of those who we teach, through innovation. Such novelty can be explored during student-selected components (SSCs). Clinicians will increasingly be called upon to manage effects of health care on climate change


The project, entitled 'Can we introduce sustainability to clinical skills teaching?' was led by two third-year medical students during their SSC periods. New ways to make existing skills more sustainable were explored by surveying existing practice in the workplace, analysing selected skills in a lab-based setting and through discussions with sustainability champions.


Cannulation and intravenous (IV) antibiotic preparation were chosen by the students as prototype skills. These skills were observed by the students in the workplace and adapted by them to appease the 'triple bottom line' of sustainability: environmental, social and economic factors were addressed. The revised skills were taught by the students to their peers in a sustainably conscious fashion.


Provided that such innovations in sustainable skills teaching are deemed appropriate by clinical skills directors, such methods could be adopted across medical schools and expanded to cover a wider range of skills.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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