Climatizing the Internal Medicine Residency Curriculum: A Practical Guide for Integrating the Topic of Climate and Health into Resident Education

Elsevier, The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 2021, 100067
Thomas M. Kuczmarski, Jacob Fox, Ethan Katznelson, Durga Thakral, Khin-Kyemon Aung, Emily Moore, Jonathan Eisen, Jonathan E Slutzman, Regina LaRocque, Caren G Solomon, Gregg L Furie, Paul F Dellaripa

A "train the trainer" approach to facilitate incorporation of climate-content into residency curriculum.

The article discusses the importance of integrating climate and health training into internal medicine residency curricula, as the climate crisis is a significant threat to human health. However, internal medicine residency curricula often have limited space for additional material, and essential topics in clinical medicine already saturate the curriculum. The guide proposes a solution by integrating evidence-based topics in climate and health into pre-existing lectures in the longitudinal, outpatient lecture series, organised by medical subspecialty. By adding material to recurring presentations, it ensures the longevity and adaptability of the course material and exposes core topics to the entire residency, limiting workload by presenters.

The article highlights learning objectives for these lectures and reviews pertinent topics in climate and health by medical subspecialty, including respiratory medicine, cardiovascular disease, renal medicine, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, mental health, and women's health. By "training the trainer," the guide aims to equip resident physicians with the knowledge to care for patients affected by climate-mediated diseases and advocate for solutions to the climate crisis.

Since climate change continues to have a substantial influence on our globe, it is critical for medical practitioners to recognise and address environmental change's health consequences.

Climatisation, or the incorporation of climate change and environmental health into medical education, is an important step in preparing the next generation of medical professionals to face these concerns.

The article discusses the urgent need for health professionals, specifically resident physicians in internal medicine, to receive education on the health dimensions of the climate emergency. The effects of climate change on human health are increasing and mounting, including heat-related illness, cardiopulmonary disease exacerbations, changes in vector and infectious disease ecology, mental illness, and stress to governance and public health infrastructure. In order to address these effects, health professionals must be trained to provide clinical care for both known and emerging climate-mediated diseases and to educate patients on how to mitigate and adapt to these risks.

While some health professions schools and organisations are beginning to incorporate climate-related education into their curricula, there are comparatively few efforts to do so in graduate medical education (GME) settings, such as internal medicine residency programmes. One potential challenge of incorporating this education into residency curricula is that they are already saturated with essential topics in clinical medicine and have limited space for additional material.

To address this challenge, the authors propose integrating climate and health training into pre-existing didactic lectures in internal medicine residency curricula, organised by medical subspecialty. They provide learning objectives for each subspecialty, such as pulmonology, cardiovascular disease, nephrology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, mental health, and women's health, and offer evidence-based, clinically relevant recommendations for each objective.

The authors suggest that integrating climate-related content into existing lectures in small group settings, such as ambulatory didactic conferences, can facilitate resident participation and discussion, expose subspecialty fellows to climate-related topics in their specialities, and normalise the discussion of climate change when talking about a variety of clinical topics. Ultimately, by training the trainer, resident physicians can be better equipped to care for patients affected by climate-mediated disease and advocate for solutions to the climate crisis.


What is the significance of climatising medical education?

Climate change and environmental health challenges are having a growing influence on public health, hence climatising medical education is critical.

We can assist equip medical practitioners to confront these difficulties and contribute to efforts to minimise and adapt to environmental change by introducing these subjects into medical education.

How can I prepare for my medical education?

Climate change may be incorporated into current courses, new courses or electives focusing on environmental health can be created, climate change can be integrated into clinical encounters, and climate-related research and activism can be engaged in.

What are the advantages of adapting medical education?

Climatising medical education may assist medical practitioners in better understanding the linkages between climate change and health, preparing them to address the health implications of environmental change in their practice, and promoting healthcare sustainability. It may also help with efforts to minimise and adapt to environmental change, as well as increase awareness about the linkages between climate change and health.

What options are there for climatising medical education?

There are several tools for climatising medical education, including the practical guide to climatising internal medicine residency programme, which may be found at SDG Resources.

The Medical Society Collaboration on Climate and Health, the Climate and Health Alliance, and the Planetary Health Alliance are among the other resources.

How can I help to climatise medical education?

Advocating for climate change and environmental health education within your institution, joining a professional organisation focused on climate and health, attending conferences and workshops focused on environmental health, and engaging in climate-related research and advocacy are all ways to get involved in climatising medical education.