A guide for climate change integration at all levels of medical education
A new and internationally rare example of student-staff co-development of systematic planetary health and healthcare sustainability curriculum resources for teaching medicine connects the dots between foundational medical learning and the clinical effects of climate change.
The curriculum map is an easy-to-use resource for medical educators to find clinically and climate relevant teaching points in each major body system.
Called the “planetary health organ system map*” it exemplifies a model of integrating the pathophysiological consequences of climate change, one domain of planetary health, as a cross-cutting theme into the classical organ-systems based medical curriculum.
Developed by members of Doctors for the Environment Australia from the University of Melbourne, it connects planetary health concepts with patient care in a way that ensures concepts are clinically relevant and can be translated into day-to-day practice. It also emphasises the positive health ‘co-benefits’ to patients of environmentally sustainable healthcare.
Central to the work was the application of three models to identify and explore the multi-directional relationships between broad public and planetary health content, and person-centred biophysiological mechanisms. The team’s open-access article, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, provides further methodological detail.
The planetary health organ system map also offers an example of student-faculty collaboration, empowering students as leaders and partners in learning and development of material, a known strategy to improve students’ effectiveness as learners and confidence in teaching. Lead author Hayden Burch, now a Resident at Austin Health and Honorary of the University of Melbourne Department of Critical Care, says co-development of the curriculum map alongside faculty academics has made him confident in managing and treating patients afflicted by extreme weather-related diseases.
Doctors for the Environment (DEA) believe that educating the medical workforce to understand, address and mitigate the health effects of climate change is crucial. This requires integration across all levels of medical education.
The curriculum map is an easy-to-use resource for medical educators to find clinically and climate relevant teaching points in each major body system. As the ‘organ-based’ teaching approach is one that is well established across the health disciplines, including in post-University vocational education, this resource has potential widespread application.
Included in this resource is:
- Curriculum Mapping Framework and Methodology
- Organ System Mapping
- Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System, Renal System, Gastrointestinal System, Neuroscience, Reproduction, Intersystem, Healthcare’s Ecological Footprint, The Role of Medical Students, Opportunities for Applied Skills and Behaviours.
We invite all medical educators, including at medical school, prevocational teaching hospital and medical specialty college levels, to incorporate this resource in your curricula.
Chair of the DEA, Dr John Van Der Kallen said everyone working in health, especially doctors, needs to be aware of the link between the environment, our changing climate and health.
“This is an excellent resource which can be used by all educators to improve evidenced based knowledge and to give those working in health strategies to manage climate related health impacts,” Dr Van Der Kallen said.
DEA has an active group of members interested in medical education. They welcome your input, feedback and would be happy to advise on integration within your curriculum – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s MJA article on curriculum mapping can be found here: