How are you helping to move the needle on climate change?
Picture it: you’re a young girl working alongside your parents at the family farm. Over the years, you begin to see a decline or negative effect on the crop. After a bit of research, you discover that global climate change may be the culprit.
In a recent interview with Chamberlain University Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program faculty member Janice Unruh Davidson, PhD, DNP, NR-BC, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, CNE, ANEF, FAANP, FNAP, she talked about discovering her passion for impacting climate change while growing up in a farming community. Since then, she has focused on raising awareness and educating others on the issue at hand.
What first ignited your passion for impacting climate change, Dr. Unruh Davidson? In what way has that lead your career?
I grew up in a farming community and the impact of climate change is often most evident at that microsystem level. As a public health nurse, I have had the opportunity to additionally explore the impact of climate change on population health across the lifespan and find that it affects all of us. For example, an article published recently in American Nurse Today (Zalon, 2019 February) examined the unique impact of climate change on older Americans who are among the more vulnerable to effects of climate change.
Do you have any work you are especially proud of?
My work as a public health nurse is currently focused on research that increases awareness about important concepts that impact health such as climate change. Climate change is certainly one aspect of public health where there is a lot of misunderstanding and a need for increased awareness. From my work exploring the impact of climate change on population health across the lifespan, the outcomes of my research are to demonstrate increased awareness about the impact of climate change on the young, the old and vulnerable populations in our society.
Climate change can feel like an overwhelming topic to some. How do you think the University can support climate change?
I believe Chamberlain University has positioned itself in a unique way from the aspect of Chamberlain Care® to address determinants of health. A motto I have developed as a public health nurse is: “Convene, collaborate and advocate.” To this end, I think that as an extension of caring, the University can best support efforts to address climate change by convening stakeholders who are able to address this important topic, engaging in interprofessional collaboration on this important topic with those stakeholders and advocating for increased climate change awareness. Currently, our MPH degree program does seek to engage in public health workforce development, but not on the topics of climate change.
Are there any specific degree programs or courses that aid in preparing climate change warriors?
Currently, Chamberlain’s MPH degree program requires an environmental health course, which I teach, that introduces the topic of climate change and its adverse impact on public health. MPH students are also required to read the book “Silent Springs” by Rachel Carson, which discusses climate change. Additionally, our MPH degree program requires students to demonstrate attainment of MPH competencies related to the impact of topics such as climate change on environmental health. All of these efforts are pieces of the larger picture that will allow them to make an impact within the issue of climate change.
As a professional, how can they make a difference in climate change?
I believe that any profession can impact climate change. Climate change has taken a leadership role in this global agenda. Within the nursing profession, I am aware that the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) has brought to bear on the topic of climate change. ANHE has produced a great guide for nurses on getting started with climate solutions.
Why do you think the topic of climate change is being highlighted during National Public Health Week?
I think the topic of climate change is being highlighted during National Public Health Week 2019 because of the misperceptions and misunderstandings that exist in today’s society regarding the adverse effects of climate change. Climate change is a global phenomenon, but understandings regarding how to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change or prepare for climate change widely vary. There is a great need for public health campaigns related to the impact of climate change on public health.
Interested in learning about the current state of climate change and how you can make an impact? Explore the exciting opportunities available through Chamberlain University’s Master of Public Health degree program. Request more information here.