There is increasing interest and engagement among the nursing community around environmental matters that influence human health, such as climate change. Nurses are trusted health professionals and make up nearly 40% of the healthcare workforce, serving as catalysts of change in their institutions and practice settings.
To activate nurses, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), launched the Nurses Climate Challenge (the Challenge) in May 2018. The Nurses Climate Challenge is a national campaign to educate health professionals on climate and health, with nurses leading the education. The Challenge started with the original goal to educate 5,000 health professionals and was quickly surpassed in less than a year due to the combined efforts of Nurses Climate Champions around the world.
The response to the Nurses Climate Challenge has been robust. There are over 1,000 nurse climate champions from nearly all 50 states, with over 13,000 health professionals educated since the launch. In addition, nurses from 19 countries outside the United States are registered as Nurse Climate Champions. However, there are nearly four million nurses and 18 million workers in the healthcare sector in the US alone; therefore there is an opportunity to exponentially scale the impact of the Challenge. To do this, we are aiming to educate 50,000 health professionals by 2022.
The Nurses Climate Challenge offers a comprehensive toolkit with all the resources nurses need to educate colleagues on climate and health and engage in climate-smart practices in health settings and at home. Nurses using the Challenge resources are highlighted through profiles (https://nursesclimatechallenge.org/champion-profiles) published on the Challenge website, shared in newsletters, and posted on social media to showcase the work being done and to inspire others to join.
The Challenge also calls on nurses to be advocates for climate and health. Leading within a nursing organization, health institution, or academic center to spearhead initiatives to address climate change is an example of how nurses can move health professionals from education to action. The Challenge resources include a guide to taking action within workplace and home settings and provide other points to get started.
As a nurse, you can also educate policymakers and the public about the connection between climate and health and how to take action by writing a letter to the editor in a local newspaper, meeting with elected officials, or talking with patients, friends and family members, and/or your community about the health impacts of climate change. The Challenge website includes sample talking points and template letter to the editors in the resources section.
Furthermore, the CHANT: Climate, Health, and Nursing Tool 2020 is now available. CHANT is 10-minute voluntary survey asking respondents about awareness, motivation, and behaviors related to climate and health. Nurses and other health professions are encouraged to take the survey every year. Access CHANT here: http://bit.ly/30riTR9.
Learn more and join the Nurses Climate Challenge by visiting nursesclimatechallenge.org.