Can nurses have an impact on the environment, climate change, and environmental health? Are we stewards of the larger world? We can indeed, and we certainly are. On episode 251 of The Nurse Keith Show, Keith interviews Cara Cook and Katie Huffling of The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (AHNE) about these salient 21st-century issues that are impacting us all whether we want to believe the science or not.
The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) is a national nursing organization dedicated to educating and supporting the nursing profession to understand the connection between the environment and health.
As the largest portion of the health care workforce, nurses are well-positioned to lead in addressing the most pressing environmental health concerns. Additionally, the Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, Standard 17, states “the registered nurse practices in an environmentally safe and healthy manner. Environmental health topics are applicable to every nurse regardless of specialty and can easily be incorporated into professional practice. A few current initiatives of ANHE include:
1) The Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health is a partnership between the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments in partnership with Climate for Health and U.S. based national nursing organizations. The Nursing Collaborative focuses on building national nursing leadership on climate change by generating commitments from national nursing organizations to address this issue as a health priority and to further engage memberships in climate solutions. There are currently 11 member nursing organizations.
2) The Nurses’ Climate Challenge is a partnership with Health Care Without Harm. An educational campaign to educate 5,000 health professionals on climate and health, with nurses leading the education. We surpassed this goal under one of launching (nurses have educated over 10,000 health professionals) and announced a new challenge goal in May 2019 of educating 50,000 health professionals by 2022.
3) ANHE recently launched an Environmental Health Nurse Fellowship. Thirty nurse fellows from across the country are participating in the fellowship program where they are working to partner with a community-based organization to work on environmental health issues of concern as identified by the community. ANHE does a great amount of advocacy at a national level both in Congress and at the Environmental Protection Agency. They also hold trainings and webinars for nurses to learn more about how to engage in advocacy efforts.
- Please consider downloading AHNE’s award-winning e-book on nursing and environmental health.
- You can also apply for the AHNE Charlotte Brody Award, which honors Charlotte Brody, a registered nurse, activist, and a founder of Health Care Without Harm, who has dedicated her career to making a safer, healthier environment through sustainability. The Charlotte Brady Award seeks to recognize nurses who go beyond everyday nursing endeavors to proactively promote and protect environmental health and who generate significant outcomes from their efforts
Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and is the Executive Director the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Ms. Huffling works with nurses and national nursing organizations on a variety of environmental health issues including climate change, chemical policy, inclusion of environmental health into nursing education, and sustainable healthcare. Ms. Huffling has written numerous peer-reviewed articles on environmental health issues and was an editor of the environmental health e-textbook “Environmental Health in Nursing” that won the 2017 AJN Book of the Year in Environmental Health. She was also the recipient of the 2018 Charlotte Brody Award which recognizes nurses who go beyond everyday nursing endeavors to proactively promote and protect environmental health. Connect with Katie on LinkedIn.
Cara Cook, MS, RN, AHN-BC is the Climate Change Program Coordinator for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Her work focuses on elevating climate and health as a national priority by engaging nursing organizations and individual nurses in climate and health advocacy and education. Prior to joining ANHE, Cara was a Local Care Coordinator with Healthways-Sharecare, Inc., coordinating care for high-risk patients in partnership with their primary care physicians as part of an insurance-based Patient-Centered Medical Home program. She has experience in critical care nursing working in both medical and trauma intensive care. Cara holds a Master’s in Community/Public Health Nursing through the University of Maryland. Connect with Cara on LinkedIn.