I am a women’s health nurse practitioner and nurse midwife. Women’s health and nursing education have been my professional passions. Several years ago. I became the Director on Medical Education at the national office of Planned Parenthood (PP). My first assignment was to coordinate a program to educate staff and clients on how to reduce their environmental health (EH) risks. EH was not a part of my nursing education curriculum, so I had a lot of studying to do to get up to speed. I was astounded when I researched EH issues, Toxic chemicals and other threats were everywhere. I realized I had to make changes in my own personal and professional life before I could help educate others.
My colleagues and I developed the “Green Choices Project”. All PP centers across the country received client risk assessment questionnaires and information sheets, brochures, and posters, Additionally, staff were given evidence-based materials, guidelines for developing and implementing green teams, plus online and in person educational sessions that focused on personal, professional and community EH. My biggest challenge was presenting information that did not make individuals feel overwhelmed and out of control. We presented action plans that folks could apply to their own lives. We tried to impart that if everyone made small changes and advocated for their families and communities, we all would live in healthier environments.
Along the way I have met many amazing nurses who were interested in EH. I was honored in 2008 to be present at the inception of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) at a meeting in Oracle, Arizona. I am currently treasure of the board of directors of the ANHE. My commitment to educating clinicians and others on issues relating to EH and climate change continues to grow. I think nurses are the perfect professionals to influence EH in ones’ personal lives, professional surroundings and communities.