Mandate for the Nursing Profession to Address Climate Change Through Nursing Education

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2017 Nov;49(6):679-687. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12331. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Purpose: The adverse health effects from climate change demand action from the nursing profession. This article examines the calls to action, the status of climate change in nursing education, and challenges and recommendations for nursing education related to climate change and human health.

Organizing construct: Discussion paper.

Findings: The integration of climate change into nursing education is essential so that knowledge, skills, and insights critical for clinical practice in our climate-changing world are incorporated in curricula, practice, research, and policy. Our Ecological Planetary Health Model offers a framework for nursing to integrate relevant climate change education into nursing curricula and professional nursing education. Nursing education can offer a leadership role to address the mitigation, adaptation, and resilience strategies for climate change.

Conclusions: An ecological framework is valuable for nursing education regarding climate change through its consideration of political, cultural, economic, and environmental interrelationships on human health and the health of the planet. Knowledge of climate change is important for integration into basic and advanced nursing education, as well as professional education for nurses to address adverse health impacts, climate change responses policy, and advocacy roles.

Clinical relevance: For current and future nurses to provide care within a climate-changing environment, nursing education has a mandate to integrate knowledge about climate change issues across all levels of nursing education. Competence in nursing practice follows from knowledge and skill acquisition gained from integration of climate change content into nursing education.

Keywords: Climate change; ecological model; environmental health; health policy; nursing education; planetary health.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Environmental Health / education*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Nursing Evaluation Research