Educating Nurse Practitioners About Climate Change, Health, and Climate Justice

Published:November 01, 2021DOI:


      • Climate change poses unprecedented threats to human and planetary health.
      • Nurse practitioners must be prepared to care for people affected by climate change and advocate to mitigate its harms.
      • Climate change and climate justice can be woven into existing curricular content.


      Climate change poses unprecedented threats to health, leading to higher rates of heat stress; cardiopulmonary illness; food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases; adverse pregnancy outcomes; poor mental health; and premature death. These impacts are inequitably distributed, with vulnerable populations bearing the greatest burdens. Nurse practitioners must be prepared to care for people affected by climate change and to advocate for policies to mitigate its harm. To date, efforts to integrate climate change and health concepts into health professions education are lacking. This article describes one nursing school’s experience incorporating these concepts into nurse practitioner curricula.


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      Katherine Simmonds, PhD, MPH, WHNP-BC, is a distinguished teaching associate professor and coordinator of the Women's Health/Gender-Related NP Track, School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA, and can be contacted at [email protected]


      Suellen Breakey, PhD, RN, is a distinguished teaching associate professor and associate director at the Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions.


      Patrice K. Nicholas, DNSc, MPH, NP-C, is a distinguished teaching professor and director at the Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions.