COS 90-4 - Interdisciplinary education of nursing and health professionals on ecosystem services

Thursday, August 6, 2009: 9:00 AM
Picuris, Albuquerque Convention Center
Patricia J. O'Brien , College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Paul G. Schaberg , USDA Forest Service, Burlington, VT
Background/Question/Methods The general public often looks to their health care providers to help them not only understand their immediate medical issues, but also expect them to have a working knowledge of public health issues.  Presently most training programs for medical, nursing and health care professionals do not require their students to receive specific ecological training, and do not require even a basic competency in public health environmental issues. Is there a need to expand ecosystem education into standard health care professional education because many pressing human health issues are related to environmental degradation?  Issues such as antibiotic resistance, food safety, endocrine disruption, toxicology, cancer or disease cluster analysis and basic relationships between asthma rates and air pollution need to be included in academic training programs. If we hope to educate the appropriate professionals for future public health monitoring and public health investigations we need to include that training into the present curriculums. Results/Conclusions The University of Vermont has made Ecosystem Education a mandatory part of the undergraduate Nursing Curriculum and an elective part of the medical education for physicians at the College of Medicine.  Formal curriculums on Ecosystem and Human Health have been created for the undergraduate and graduate level student. Faculty for these classes is made up of an interdisciplinary team of physicians, and Ph.D. level trained Ecologists or environmental researchers. These courses have been well received by both the Department of Nursing and College of Medicine faculty and students. Student demand for expansion of these courses exists. Presently faculty at the University of Vermont has not been able to meet these student driven requests. Faculty response is limited by resource allocation, a lack of standardized expectations and models, and limited national demand for inclusion of these topics into curriculums, professional testing, and licensing.
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