Sustainability and Nurse Education Twitter discussion

We had an excellent Twitter Chat on 24th March 2015 see details below:

Total contributers: 119    Total tweets: 969    Total reach: 3,303,393

Should topics about sustainability and climate change be included in the nursing curriculum?

This chat was guest hosted by @NurSus_EU  English transcripts were analysed by Dr Jane Grose, Plymouth University.

Por favor, vaya a la parte inferior de la página para ver el resumen español   Please go to the bottom of the page for the Spanish summary.

TwitterChatword[2]_2015This was an excellent twitter chat with tweeters from a range of Institutions and geographical areas including Somerset, Torbay, Leeds, Salford, Oxford, Brighton, and wider afield in Maastricht, Esslingen, Spain and New York.

Many of our students at the Universities of Jaen and Plymouth participated as well as those who co-hosted the chat with us.

We began with the question: What does sustainability mean for you?

The participants recognised that sustainability and climate change were both issues that needed to be tackled with some immediacy because they would ultimately have an impact on generations to come.  As health workers they were particularly concerned about the most vulnerable in society and the effect that just a few degrees increase in global temperatures would negatively affect this group.

‘It is about social justice, protecting the vulnerable, giving nurses the right to appropriate this as a foundation for practice’

Sustainability in the curriculum

TwitterChatword[1]_2015The discussion developed into broader issues of how sustainability could be taught to students.  The question they asked was ‘what the requirements would be to ensure it was a holistic approach with sustainability principles embedded throughout the curriculum rather than a stand-alone module?’.  A voluntary or one off session was seen as inferior to a much more comprehensive approach. As one nurse said:

Education is the key!’

However there were concerns that mentors and all nurse educators might not be ready to teach through a ‘sustainability lens’:

‘Are practice mentors receptive to sustainability issues? How can we support them in this?’

Other concerns related to the time availability in the curriculum and whether sustainability would be the first subject to be dropped as time became pressured or equally the subject was seen as important but:

‘Barriers might include a perception that it’s everyone’s business so no one takes the lead?

Social marketing, behaviour change, life cycle approaches, ecological public health, using such approaches as a mindset of ‘planetism’ and the concept of ‘interdependence’ and imaginative ways to include sustainability were all discussed.

‘incase you were wondering I sneaked sustainability into psychology lecture…integrated into curriculum ??’

Specific considerations were given to waste and resources

The participants asked:

How can we encourage students to speak up when they see waste?

There were some practical responses:

Asking questions is a good way – do we need to dispose of this?

The issues in relation to glove and plastic apron usage fell into two categories the first was the perceived unnecessary use of non-sterile gloves and aprons and the second were the real concerns the participants had about speaking up when they saw poor practice

In terms of glove usage it was clear that participants felt there was a great deal of confusion about when to wear gloves which didn’t necessarily relate to practice.  Simple hand washing was seen as a viable alternative

‘Biggest single factor in reducing infection is hand washing not gloves’

Participants felt that there needed to be more input from waste managers and infection control staff about the correct procedure.  The discussion continued and focussed particularly on the use of gloves to wash a patient’s face. There was a feeling this was:

‘Degrading and dehumanising to pt,wasteful and often unnecessary!’

The second area in this section was the concern about whether it was possible to challenge the overuse of materials.  The messages suggested that it might be better to do as you were told at the time and have a discussion afterwards.  However this thread was concerning as there was clear anxiety about how best to question practice with many suggesting they might not feel able to.

Issues of the use of energy within the NHS were a cause of concern.  This not just related to leaving lightbulbs switched on but also on the poor habits around leaving electronic equipment turned on or running down the internal lithium batteries.  There was recognition that many of the machines used contained rare materials that had to be mined so were therefore carbon intensive and ultimately vulnerable to supply reduction

‘as well as the mining of rare elements required to produce the internal parts’

Considerations going forward

The enthusiasm for increasing sustainability education was tangible.  Participants could think of a multitude of ways of increasing understanding and behaviour change and there was a strong feeling that nurses had the power to take this forward:

‘Nursing must be one of the largest professions in Europe, imagine the impact sustainability education could have’

With support nurses educators could develop modules on global leadership and awareness of the socio-political issues and political economy effects so that students would understand the need for behaviour change and the greater ramifications of not meeting the challenge of climate change.

See Chat Transcript, Chat Word Cloud and Participant Bio Cloud at:

Informe sobre las aportaciones del alumnado español al debate organizado  en Twitter-Chat el día 24 de marzo de 2015 a las 21 hora española.

Tema: Sostenibilidad medio ambiental y educación en enfermería.

La finalidad del encuentro en esta red social fue generar un debate y conocer la opinión del alumnado acerca de la inclusión de la sostenibilidad medio ambiental en el curriculum formativo de los estudiantes de enfermería. Fueron elegidos 6 estudiantes de enfermería (3 chicos y tres chicas) de la universidad de Jaén. Al debate en Twitter se unieron profesionales y otros estudiantes de Enfermería.

A continuación exponemos las principales aportaciones por temas:

¿Qué entiendes por sostenibilidad?

Hubo variedad de respuestas a esta pregunta entre las que destacan:

-Es un tema de gran importancia en el campo de la salud , sobre todo en enfermería.

-Es respeto  y garantía de calidad ambiental.

-Sostenibilidad es salud comunitaria para todos.

-La sostenibilidad es considerada como la atención a las necesidades actuales sin comprometer la capacidad de satisfacer las generaciones futuras las suyas.

-Son nuevos tiempos y nuevas formas los problemas que ocasiona el cambio climático.

-Es garantizar el equilibrio entre crecimiento económico, cuidado del medio ambiente y bienestar social.

-Es avanzar hacia un futuro medio ambiental seguro para que se favorezca nuestra salud comunitaria.

-Sostenibilidad es reducir, reutilizar y reciclar, invirtiendo para reducir el gasto y el consumo.

¿Deben incluirse los temas de sostenibilidad en el curriculum formativo de los estudiantes de enfermería?

La opinión generalizada es de total acuerdo con la implantación de temas de sostenibilidad en los estudios de enfermería justificada en que:

-Con las medidas y planes de educación en sostenibilidad ganan los pacientes y ganan los profesionales de la salud.

-El cambio climático afecta gravemente a la salud de las personas por eso es necesario incluirlo en los estudios de enfermería.

-El 5% de las emisiones de CO2 son vertidas por el sector sanitario.

-Aumentan enfermedades como el asma, alergias y cáncer relacionadas con el cambio climático.

-La sostenibilidad es un tema de interés social.

-Las enfermeras debemos ser agentes sensibilizadores de la sociedad.

-Hay que frenar la contaminación desde el ámbito sanitario.

– Muchos factores ambientales explican la manifestación de enfermedades a las que estamos predispuestos genéticamente.

– Necesidad de fomentar el reciclaje de material sanitario.

– El conocimiento del medio ambiente mejora la promoción de la salud.

No hay consenso sobre como incluir estos contenidos en el curriculum formativo, barajándose varias alternativas: en forma de asignatura, de forma transversal desde varias asignaturas como farmacología, enfermería clínica, enfermería comunitaria e incluso se contempla la realización de tesis doctorales cuya temática sea la sostenibilidad y los cuidados de salud. Quizás la transversalidad sea la opción más aplaudida por cuanto aportaría mayores competencias y tendría más aplicabilidad. Otras formas contempladas serían introducir los contendidos desde la práctica clínica y como materia extracurricular.

¿Qué contenidos deben contemplarse para la formación en sostenibilidad?

Esta pregunta lanzada en el chat generó diversidad de opiniones que a continuación presentamos:

-Gestión integral de residuos sanitarios: clasificación, tratamiento, eliminación.

-Enfermedades transmisibles y cambio climático.

-Contaminación en general.

-Gestión de material de un solo uso como guantes de plástico. Uso y racionalización.

-Material clínico desechable.

-Impacto del medio ambiente y nuevas patologías.


Fuera de las preguntas hay opiniones que inciden en la necesidad de formar al profesorado en temas de sostenibilidad y cambio climático en relación con la salud.





One thought on “Sustainability and Nurse Education Twitter discussion

  • August 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Very good article. I’m experiencing some of these issues as well..


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