Planetary Health: The Next Frontier in Nursing Education

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19 Scopus citations


Much has been said about the severe health impacts of climate change for individuals and societies. The nursing profession has done significant work educating practicing nurses about climate change (Health Care Without Harm, 2018; Leffers, Smith, Huffling, McDermott-Levy, & Sattler, 2016), promoting policy changes (Leffers & Butterfield, 2018), and leading effective actions and practice changes (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, 2019). However, climate change is only one symptom of an emerging and potentially catastrophic multisystem failure. Failing to take a systems approach and addressing only one symptom at a time can lead to unintended consequences, ineffective use of resources, and activist burnout. The severity and urgency of global environmental issues requires a paradigm shift from understanding health solely in human terms, to a deep awareness that human health and environmental health are inseparable. This article discusses the emerging interdisciplinary field of planetary health and the potential impact of nursing leadership. Modifications to nursing education are required so that future nurses are ready to lead transformative planetary health initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalCreative Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

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© Copyright 2019 Creative Health Care Management.


  • climate change
  • nursing education
  • planetary health
  • systems thinking


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