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A new initiative by Oxford Medical Students and faculty is accelerating the learning of sustainable healthcare at Oxford.

Stethoscope layed out to form a heart shape with a handmade globe inside

By Hannah Chase (3rd year Graduate Entry Medicine student) and Dr Richard Harrington (Associate Director, Graduate Entry Medicine)

As climate change is the greatest threat to global health this century (The Lancet), last year a group medical students approached faculty requesting the Medical School to adequately prepare them to provide sustainable healthcare in their future work. To develop a plan on how this teaching could be implemented, a student-faculty collaboration was formed, comprising Hannah Chase, Sarah Peters, Susannah Black, Chloe Freeman, Dr Richard Harrington, Dr Ruchi Baxi and Dr SanYuMay Tun who was invited to facilitate as she is expert in the field. We hosted a dynamic faculty-wide workshop on Education for Sustainable Healthcare in October 2020, and by popular demand a follow-on workshop took this further on 20 April 2021.

Education for Sustainable Healthcare (ESH) includes knowledge and skills relevant to the adverse effects of climate change on health and healthcare, and also healthcare's own environmental impact and the responsibilities of healthcare professionals in light of the climate and ecological crisis. As the subject affects every speciality and is a way of thinking, for effective learning it is vital that ESH is an integrated theme across the entire curriculum rather than standalone teaching.

There were nearly fifty participants by the second workshop, including members of preclinical and clinical faculty and students, administrative staff, hospital trust staff and clinicians from our district general hospital teachers enabling crucial inter-department discussions. A mixture of talks and dynamic discussions were timetabled, including presentations of where ESH had already been implemented since October, such as by Professor Michele Peters lead of the Sociology course. Leading from this, teaching faculty noted their intentions for embedding in curriculum and assessment, and the Medical School announced funding for a new position to take forward Education for Sustainable Healthcare at Oxford.


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