Presentation Notes

Peer Review Poster at the Annual Meeting of the Alliance of independent Academic Medical Centers; Nashville, TN; March 23-25, 2023.


Introduction/Background: Climate change is impacting our patients’ health now— heatwaves, flooding and storms, wildfires all have adverse effects on patients’ health. For our most vulnerable communities it is a threat multiplier, worsening already prevalent disease states. “Clinicians have a powerful megaphone - and a profound responsibility - to effectively communicate” to their patients the relationship between climate and its effects on their health.[1] The messages need to be consistent and clear across and within professions. Yet, while most clinicians are “concerned” that climate is changing, only a few have knowledge and skills about its specific impacts on health and how to discuss the implications with their patients.[2],[3] Confounding this challenge is that often these knowledgeable individuals are siloed within their own profession with limited time and resources to educate their faculty, peers, and learners.

Hypothesis/Aim Statement: To design a core curriculum on climate change impacts on patient health and realistic patient communications strategies to discuss these impacts, accessible by learners across the continuum of health professions with a goal for clinicians to get “climate smart”.

Methods: Two graduate medical education (GME) faculty met with continuing education leaders to discuss the need for interprofessional climate change education. The result was the creation of an interprofessional climate change education planning committee. Knowledgeable individuals from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, behavioral science/social work, and system sustainability were invited to explore options for designing CE accredited, clinically actionable climate education that could be accessed by students, residents and practicing clinicians. Competencies from various organizations were shared[4] and committee perspectives were discussed. Between meetings, a core group met to take the committee’s ideas and generate potential session outlines, interactivity options, and presenters for review/discussion at subsequent planning meetings.

Results:­ A six-session curriculum was designed, framed by an APHA model on health impacts of climate change.[5] The first session lays the groundwork for why climate change is “in my lane’ as a health care professional. The next four sessions focus on different public and population health implications of climate change (rising temperatures, extreme weather, air quality impacts, vector borne disease) and how these affect and interface with medications, chronic conditions (CV, respiratory, allergies), mental health, and infectious diseases (eg, Lyme, zika, malaria). The final session emphasizes communication strategies with patients.

Conclusions: ­Innovation within GME is common yet outreach to continuing education leaders in other professions creates a synergy of expertise and resources to design comprehensive, system wide education that enhances climate-smart expertise and skills among the various clinician groups in health systems.

[1] Peters E, Salas RN. Communicating Statistics on the Health Effects of Climate Change. NEJM. 2022;387(3):193-6.

[2] Luong KT, et al. Prescription for healing the climate crisis: Insights on how to activate health professionals to advocate for climate and health solutions. J Clim Chang Health. 2021;4 doi: 10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100082. 7

[3] den Boer AC, et al. Discussing climate change and other forms of global environmental change during the clinical encounter: Exploring US physicians’ perspectives. J Clim Chang Health. 2021;4:100058.

[4] Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (GCCHE). Core Climate & Health Competencies for Health Professionals.

[5] American Public Health Association (APHA). How Climate Change Affects Your Health. Infographic available at:






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