A special issue of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship explores climate change, global health, and the role of nursing in addressing environmental changes and protecting vulnerable people and populations.

Photo: flooding during Hurricane Sandy
Flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Photo: flickr/Alec Perkins

The issue is guest edited by Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and Erline Perkins McGriff Professor of New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, and Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University.

In an editorial, Sullivan-Marx and McCauley write, “Scientists are clear that the planet is experiencing extremes in climate change, but political debate lingers regarding the cause, human or otherwise, for climate change…Regardless, it is clear that climate is changing, and nursing needs to rise above this debate to address the issue as part of our scope of a discipline that focuses on health promotion, disease prevention, and environment measures within the interrelated concepts of person, environment, health, and nursing.”

In the issue, nursing scholars present papers addressing the multitude of challenges that health providers face related to climate change in the United States and globally, and how nurses can play a role in addressing climate change. For instance, two NYU reports examine disaster preparedness and recovery in a hospital during and after its evacuation from Hurricane Sandy, focusing on the nursing workforce’s challenges and resilience.

In addition, Ann Kurth, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN, dean and the Linda Koch Lorimer Professor of Nursing at Yale University, writes about importance of nursing in protecting planetary health, recognizing the need for the healthcare industry to reduce its carbon footprint and empowering nurses to identify and encourage sustainable practices within their practice domains and hospitals.

The issue also highlights the role that nursing educators can play in preparing the workforce of the future to care for populations – including vulnerable ones, such as children, older adults, and those with chronic illnesses – experiencing uncertain climate conditions. Several papers in the issue discuss frameworks for integrating climate change content into health professional education, nursing's role in disaster preparedness, and prevention of illness related to climate change.

“Recent natural disasters have had considerable health consequences, including deaths in nursing homes and an extreme lack of access to medical services. Now more than ever, it is critical that the nursing community work with other health professionals to plan for changing conditions and ensure sound decision-making when faced with difficult situations,” said NYU Meyers’ Sullivan-Marx. “We hope the papers in this issue will serve to lay a foundation for future engagement of nursing scholarship in addressing climate change globally.”

"The papers in this special issue demonstrate the important roles that nurses play in extreme weather events, disaster response and protecting our most vulnerable populations,” explained McCauley of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. "As the largest health care profession, nurses will be generating research findings, applying evidence in protecting populations, and educating the workforce of the future.”

The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, published by Wiley, is the official journal of The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

About NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing (@NYUNursing)
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing and health. Founded in 1932, the College offers BS, MS, DNP, and PhD degree programs providing the educational foundation to prepare the next generation of nursing leaders and researchers. NYU Meyers has three programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report and is among the top 10 nursing schools receiving NIH funding, thanks to its research mission and commitment to innovative approaches to healthcare worldwide.

About the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University
The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing produces nursing leaders who are transforming health care through science, education, practice, and policy worldwide. It has 250 baccalaureate, 200 masters, and 20 doctoral students as well as two postdoctoral fellows. Students who complete their undergraduate degree go on to become national and international leaders in patient care, public health, government, and education. In 2011 the school received over $10,000,000 in research funding. Overall, the School is ranked 21st nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

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Rachel Harrison
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