Nurse giving shot to child with mother

In hospitals, schools, and homes, people depend on nurses and listen to their advice.

“For 17 years in a row, we’ve been the Gallup poll’s most trusted profession,” says Phyllis Eide, associate professor of nursing at Washington State University.

She says nurses are well-positioned to help people understand how climate change threatens their health. For example, the risk of heat stroke and asthma will grow as the climate warms.

Eide says nurses can also encourage patients to take precautions.

“How can you help your clients understand where they can go for resources, whether it’s a cooling center, whether it’s information on how, if they’re low-income, maybe there are organizations that can help them climate-proof their homes?” she says.

But to share information, nurses first need to be fully informed. So Eide says nursing schools should include climate change in their curriculums.

She says the profession has a responsibility to educate patients and push for programs to protect public health. For example, nurses can advocate for cooling centers and programs to check on the elderly during weather emergencies.

“That’s part of our identity as a profession,” Eide says, “to really advocate for those vulnerable people.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.