New storytelling guide for health care professionals taking climate action

By Shanda Demorest, DNP, PHN

As health care professionals, we have a unique understanding of how the health of people,  communities, and the planet are interconnected – and the stories that prove it.

Through our work, we see the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice — not merely in numbers, graphs and statistics, but in the faces and stories of the patients we care for.

Health Care Without Harm recently published a visual storytelling guide designed to help us effectively use strategic storytelling and maximize the impact of our messages as we advocate for climate action.

Over the course of 25 years of work connecting with individuals, institutions, communities and industries, Health Care Without Harm has grown increasingly aware of the power of stories to shift behaviors and compel actions that protect our health and the health of future generations.

As cornerstones of their communities, health care institutions have an important role in the discussions connecting climate and health. And as health care professionals, patients and the public trust us. Serving as messengers for climate action is our ethical imperative.

If you choose to join me in using your voice to address climate justice, each story you share connects to a larger narrative — the story of the health care industry recognizing its power and responsibility to drive action on equitable health and climate solutions both locally and globally.

Health Care Without Harm’s visual storytelling guide was created to help amplify our voices through more effective communication. Featuring real-life examples from health care professionals across the country, the guide helps us choose impactful stories, as well as identify the best voices to tell those stories. It also walks readers through the process of understanding your audience, crafting messages that resonate, using visual imagery to add impact, and selecting the best formats to deliver your story.

Whether you’re on the front lines or behind the scenes, your story can contribute to building connections that help patients, colleagues and others understand how we can all work toward a healthier planet for healthier people, and urge others to join you in taking action.

Shanda Demorest, DNP, PHN, is a sustainability strategy manager with Practice Greenhealth, where she works with hospitals and health systems to reduce their environmental impact. A practicing cardiovascular nurse with horticultural training by background, Demorest leads the Nurses Climate Challenge, a national campaign to educate 50,000 health professionals about the health impacts of climate change, with Health Care Without Harm and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Demorest earned her doctorate of nursing practice in health innovation and leadership from the University of Minnesota. She also holds the LEED Green Associate credential through the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Healthcare Without Harm is a partner of Climate for Health, a coalition of health leaders committed to caring for our climate to care for our health.  Founded by ecoAmerica, Climate for Health offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering health leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.

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