For 15 consecutive years, an annual Gallup poll has found that nursing is the most trusted profession in America. Some 84 percent of the public rates nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as "high" or "very high” – above even doctors and police officers. It is thus no surprise that the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) believes that nurses’ trusted role, and their place on the front lines of health care and disaster response in every community, places them in a unique position to inform and mobilize society to act on climate change.
A New Partnership
ecoAmerica and the Climate for Health leadership community concur with that assessment— and have finalized a new collaboration with ANHE that allows the groups to combine forces for greater effectiveness. Outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed January 31, the organizations’ joint plan will help build support for climate solutions in the United States over the coming year.
The Climate for Health-ANHE partnership has four goals:
- Building visible national leadership on climate solutions within the nursing sector
- Creating climate-literate nursing professionals who can lead on climate
- Engaging all national nursing associations and their members in climate action
- Building collective action for climate solutions within nursing and across the health sector
Among other things, the collaboration will recruit nursing associations to join climate initiatives and develop resolutions and action plans; create educational materials in a variety of media including videos, webinars, and reports; train nurse leaders as trainers and communicators to engage the public, peers, and other associations in climate solutions; and develop metrics to measure awareness, attitudes, and behaviors around climate and health. The partnership will also develop several events for nurse leaders, culminating in the first national Conference on Climate, Health, and Nursing. Throughout, Climate for Health and ANHE will cross- promote each other’s and joint activities around climate and collaborate as needed on fundraising to support this work.
One of the highlights of the agreement is that ANHE has pledged to recruit a consortium of up to 12 diverse national nursing organizations to participate in and support Climate for Health-ANHE climate initiatives. The hope is to involve nurses from across specialties, such as associations of school nurses, neonatal, obstetrical, and pediatric nurses, public health nurses and more, along with ethnicity-identified nursing organizations. The groups’ leaders will be encouraged to join the Climate for Health Leadership Circle, and a cadre of “Champions” will be developed from among nursing association members to engage fellow professionals and the public on nursing, health, and climate change.
A History of Leadership
"ANHE is excited to partner with Climate for Health to elevate the issue of climate change and bring notice to how changes are impacting the health of our patients, families, and communities, " said ANHE Climate Change Program Coordinator Cara Cook, MS, RN, AHN-BC. "We hope to bring the nursing perspective in addressing this priority issue by advocating on behalf on the public and our communities to ensure that health is placed at the forefront of policy and decision making."
With its history of leadership on climate and health, ANHE is well positioned to be a dynamic partner. Founded in 2008, ANHE has been fulfilling a mission of promoting healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy. In 2013, two ANHE member nurses, Laura Anderko PhD, RN (a professor at Georgetown University and member of Climate for Health’s Leadership Circle) and Therese Smith, RN, BSN, MPA, received the White House Champion of Change award for Climate Change and Public Health. Last spring, ANHE held a summit with the Obama White House on the importance of fighting climate change to protect the public’s health. The organization has also produced numerous educational materials, including a Climate Change, Health, and Nursing report to introduce nurses to climate science and disaster response, and an e-textbook, Environmental Health in Nursing.
Miranda Spencer is a freelance writer and editor specializing in environmental issues. If you have comments, questions, ideas, or would like to submit a blog of your own, feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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