Beth Schenk, PhD, MHI, RN, talks about her new role at WSU and provides insight into environmentally sustainable healthcare with Nurse.com.
Define environmentally sustainable healthcare and how it influences nurses.
Schenk: Essentially, to me, it means behaving and acting in ways today that would allow future generations and other species to thrive with the same access to clean air and water as previous generations had.
For instance, in acute care, the average pounds of waste per day per patient is 33. Thats 7,000 tons per day in the U.S. Think of single-use supplies in its packaging, a small item in a large box. Think about what youre throwing away every time you use that supply.
With energy use, healthcare is a large user. We contribute 8% of greenhouse gases, so were causing some of the problems that cause people to be ill. Its a vicious cycle.
What content do you plan to incorporate into the WSU nursing program related to environmentally sustainable healthcare?
Schenk: One option is speaking to relevancy where students are. When theyre learning about endocrinology, they also can learn about hormone-disrupting chemicals. They can learn about the asthma-inducing impacts from energy production while in pediatrics courses. In philosophy courses, they can talk about ethics of environmental justice.