During the COVID-19 pandemic, a few of us interested in climate change science met through the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), and our group slowly expanded with the virtual world. We discussed the ever-growing number of climate publications and scholarship opportunities available. Some of us did research, education, or policy work, and all of us practiced clinically.
Negative climate-related impacts that we see in the Emergency Department
We discussed how climate-related impacts negatively affected our patients, and brainstormed how we could tackle the problem now. For us in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, and California, the climate crisis was pathology and interrupted treatment regimens, but also an opportunity to transform current care systems. At all of our hospitals, patients were brought in by ambulance with empty inhalers and non-functioning medical devices after losing electrical power. Monitors beeped from abnormal vital signs of patients impacted by extreme heat, inland and coastal flooding, or wildfires. We recognized the dangers related to place of residence and structural drivers that exacerbated existing health disparities. We agreed that open access education was the next step to action and striving for justice across our nation together.
How to start your climate change learning and advocacy journey?
More and more colleagues asked us where they could begin their own climate and emergency medicine journeys. We used our varied local and global experiences to curate content that could be used for journal clubs, medical simulation, quality improvement projects, grant applications, and other educational tracks or electives. Our goal was to provide a starting place for individuals who may not have dedicated faculty at their institutions.
Get caught up: Comprehensive 10-module curriculum
We are proud to announce a comprehensive 10-module curriculum on Climate Change and Emergency Medicine (EM) worth 56 hours of ALiEMU learning credits. Each module encompasses a broad range of reading materials and is followed by a brief quiz on ALiEMU. All of this is available for free. Get learning now.
We hope the material reminds all of us of what actions are needed yet: authentic partnerships, clear communication of the robust evidence that we know, inclusivity, and leadership. Like emergency medicine, climate change and health work is truly life-long learning. Yet, knowledge is only as good as its use. We look forward to years of innovative solutions that move beyond dialogue and meaningfully address some of the greatest barriers to well-being for our patients and global community.