In 2018, the Camp Fire devastated parts of northern California. Dangerous smoke filled the skies of San Francisco more than 150 miles away. 

At the time Karly Hampshire was a first-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We were walking to school every day in N95 masks through this really hazy, creepy, eerie dusk,” she says. “But despite the fact that we were in our respiratory health block at the time, there was really no mention of the health effects of climate change. And that felt like a real disconnect in our curriculum.”

Hampshire is a member of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, a group helping future doctors advocate for more education about the health risks of climate change. 

For example, wildfire smoke can harm people’s lungs. Extreme heat can cause heat stroke. And prolonged exposure to high temperatures can worsen respiratory, cardiovascular, and kidney problems. 

Hampshire’s group published a guide that shows how climate change content can be integrated into medical school curricula, including sample syllabuses and lesson plans.

Students are using the guide to push for the education they’ll need to care for patients in a warming world. 

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media