As trusted leaders, physicians have a unique opportunity to advance health care sustainability and to influence public policy to protect the health of their patients.
Health Care Without Harm’s Physician Network supports emerging and established physician leaders in leveraging their influence and expertise to advance the growing health care sustainability movement and to create climate-smart health care. The Physician Network brings physicians together to share best practices and to inspire one another in advocating for a sustainable and healthy future.
While physicians take an oath to “do no harm,” the enormous environmental impact of health care operations in the United States is contributing to the burden of disease and harming the health of patients and communities. The health care sector produces an estimated 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and hospitals consume more than 8 percent of the total energy use of all commercial buildings in the United States.
Leading hospitals have been working to reduce their environmental impact, and physicians can be powerful champions to support the transition to environmentally sustainable health care both inside and outside of their health care settings. As an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics points out, “physicians and health organizations have obligations to use their influence, expertise, and resources to protect health, which includes promoting sustainability.”
- Join our network.
- Join our Facebook group.
- Plan to network with other physicians and sustainability leaders at CleanMed.
- Tell us about your sustainability work.
Physician Network goals
- To create a network of physicians interested in promoting climate-smart health care through mitigation, resilience, and leadership
- To lead and support physician action to reduce the environmental impact of health care delivery
- To engage physicians in advancing the broad agenda of Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm’s mission to transform health care worldwide so it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes an anchor for community resilience, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice
Through participation in the network, a physician will:
- Obtain the knowledge and skills to succeed as a physician-leader both inside and outside of your hospital or practice setting.
- Learn proven strategies for building sustainable, climate-smart health care operations.
- Be provided with the latest tools and resources to support your sustainability activities and projects, along with regular educational opportunities.
- Be alerted to policy advocacy actions and opportunities.
- Be inspired by a growing network of engaged physicians through our enewsletter, Facebook page, mentorship, and participation in sharing calls, webinars, and at CleanMed.
Physicians can be effective sustainability champions in a variety of ways including:
Health sector and hospital advocacy
Physicians can support sustainable, climate-smart health care within their hospitals and health systems by leading green teams or working with your sustainability director or chief medical officer to implement sustainable practices, and also by advocating internally for the adoption of ambitious sustainability goals.
Physicians in action: Learn how Dr. Aparna Bole launched a sustainability program within her health system and how Dr. Seema Gandhi reduced waste in the operating room.
As experts on human health, physicians can educate their patients and colleagues about the link between the environment and health as well as the opportunities to create sustainable health care and healthy communities.
Physicians in action: Watch grand rounds presentations from Dr. Aparna Bole on hospital sustainability at University Hospitals and Dr. Karin Zuegge on sustainable anesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Physicians can use their clinical expertise to engage in relevant research to drive health sector sustainability forward and support evidence-based decisions by sustainability professionals and clinicians.
Physicians in action: Read a study about the climate impact of anesthetic drugs.
Physicians can educate their peers and communities about climate and health and other topics related to health sector sustainability by joining our speakers bureau.
Physicians in action: Read how Drs. Lori and Rob Byron are educating the public about climate and health.
Physicians can modify their clinical practices at the bedside to protect both human and environmental health through patient education, use of environmental history tools, green pharmacy practices, and environmentally responsible delivery of patient care.
Physicians in action: See an example of an environmental history tool used by pediatricians.
As trusted messengers, physicians are powerful advocates for public policies that protect the health of their patients, communities, and our environment. Physicians can meet with legislators, submit comments to a regulatory agency, testify before a legislative committee, or sign petitions. They can also call on their health system to publicly support renewable energy and carbon reduction goals at local, state, and national levels.
Physicians in action: Learn how physicians in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia are advocating for renewable energy and climate-smart policies.
Physicians have numerous opportunities to engage the media as an advocacy tool through writing letters to the editor and op-eds, providing interviews, writing blogs or other articles and through social media.
Physicians in action: Read an op-ed by Dr. Nila Rafiq in support of the Clean Power Plan and a letter to the editor by Dr. Lisa Del Buono in support of the Paris Agreement.
Leadership and Advisory Committee members
Amy Collins, M.D.
Ilyssa Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
Melissa Pavelack, D.O.
Ted Shieh, M.D.
Karin Zuegge, M.D.
For more information contact Amy Collins, Health Care Without Harm senior clinical adviser.