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Implementing AACN's plans for environmentally sustainable nursing education
Western Institute of Nursing Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference (2012)
  • Elizabeth Schenk, Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Phyllis Eide, Washington State University
  • Patricia Butterfield, Washington State University
In 2009 the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) developed an initiative addressing environmental sustainability in nursing education. This initiative culminated in the 2011 release of a report titled Toward an Environmentally Sustainable Academic Enterprise: An AACN Guide for Nursing Education. Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Nursing subsequently developed a project to implement the recommendations and adoption of best practices throughout the College. The proposed presentation addresses three facets of this ‘best practices’ project: 1) providing administrative support and leadership for environmentally sustainable practices, 2) implementing changes in the undergraduate nursing education program, and 3) incorporating curricular and innovative changes at the graduate level. Administrative support and leadership: Dr. Patricia Butterfield, Chair of the AACN task force and Dean of the College of Nursing at WSU, presented the AACN report to faculty in Fall 2011 to inform them about the report and to seek faculty guidance on implementation. During 2010-2011 the Dean also supported an assessment of college-wide opportunities addressing environmental health and sustainability. Implementing changes in the undergraduate program: Ms. Elizabeth Schenk, a WSU PhD Nursing student with nationally recognized experience in reducing environmental impacts in hospitals worked on implementation within the baccalaureate program. She performed a sustainability assessment on the CON campus to determine areas of strengths and opportunities, incorporating input from faculty, staff, and students. She analyzed course descriptions of all undergraduate courses and suggested insertion points for content in environmental health and sustainability. Addressing sustainability and climate change at the graduate level: Dr. Phyllis Eide developed her expertise in climate change when she completed the University of Washington certificate program in climate change in 2010. As the only nurse in the inaugural cohort, it became clear to Dr. Eide that WSU’s graduate programs would benefit from a more definitive voice addressing climate change and the linked concepts of sustainability and environment. Dr. Eide’s coordinator position for the master’s program in Advanced Population Health facilitated her dialog with faculty about insertion points for this content in selected courses (e.g., N554/Epidemiological Approaches, and N532/Resource Stewardship). She developed linkages between AACN’s environmental sustainability recommendations and AACN’s Master’s Essentials. Dr. Eide’s work lead to a stronger integration of climate change and sustainability content throughout all of WSU’s graduate education tracks. Project summary: There is an increasing awareness that health care delivery may pose long-term health risks to the public through excessive energy use, the generation of toxins, and the creation of medical waste. Since nurses are a major stakeholder in the health delivery system, it is critical to educate nursing students about the delivery of environmentally sustainable health care. This best practices project focused on a college-wide integrated approach to the enhancement of students’ knowledge regarding environmentally sustainable health care.
Publication Date
April, 2012
Anaheim, CA, United States
Citation Information
Elizabeth Schenk, Phyllis Eide and Patricia Butterfield. "Implementing AACN's plans for environmentally sustainable nursing education" Western Institute of Nursing Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference (2012)
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