Nurses: Are You Environmental Health Stewards?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS

Disclosures

August 05, 2014

Policy and Advocacy

Nurses advocate every day for patient health. By assessing environmental exposures, teaching patients how to reduce those exposures, and serving as a role model for healthy living, nurses can make an impact on environmental health one patient at a time.

However, nurses would be missing a tremendous opportunity to achieve an even greater impact on environmental health if they didn't turn their talents to local, state, and federal advocacy for policy changes that can influence the health of millions. Advocating for a healthier hospital or other healthcare setting is a great place to start. Nurses can find like-minded colleagues and consumers at AHNE (which has an advocacy workgroup) or by seeking involvement with a particular issue, such as Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. Most nursing specialty organizations are involved in advocacy, and environmental health issues are a key area of policy work for these groups. Within their own healthcare facilities, nurses can make the biggest impact of all by convincing employers to adopt more environmentally responsible healthcare practices.

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