Practicing Climate Health: CleanAIRE NC Relaunches Climate & Health Residency Trainings

From extreme weather and heat waves, to air pollution and the spread of tropical disease, it’s clear the climate crisis is a public health crisis.

Yet despite the obvious connections between health and the environment, many health professionals receive little-to-no formal training on climate change and air pollution. This leaves doctors and nurses unprepared to recognize and treat issues related to air and climate, or to discuss these issues with their patients.

That’s why CleanAIRE NC is excited to relaunch our Air Quality, Climate Change, & Health trainings for medical residents. We’ve partnered with Atrium Health Family Medicine to help residents improve their patient care by integrating environmental health into their practices.

Treating Climate Change

Residency trainings resumed in August, following an extended hiatus after the pandemic. We’re currently offering trainings to second- and third-year family medicine residents during their community medicine rotations in Charlotte.

Our workshops examine the ways climate change is a social determinant of health, and its role as a “threat amplifier” that exacerbates many existing health problems and disparities. Residents work to understand the many ways climate change can harm their patient populations.

The workshops also cover several common air pollutants, such as soot and smog, that can cause or worsen lifelong health problems. Residents receive tools and resources to help them approach these topics with their patients and take steps to protect their health.

Community medicine is a strong focus throughout the training. Following the workshops, medical residents are invited to tour the nearby Historic West End Green District (HWEGD). Residents hear directly from community leaders, such as AirKeeper Ron Ross, about how environmental injustices impact the health and livelihood of his community.

health trainees air quality monitor

This hands-on opportunity demonstrates how communities and medical professionals can work together to mitigate environmental health impacts. Community collaborations like these are key to supporting health and equity beyond the traditional healthcare setting.

Climate Changes Health

We look forward to continuing and expanding these trainings, helping more medical residents expand their climate health literacy.

Doctors and nurses are our most trusted messengers on the health impacts of climate change and air pollution. Now more than ever, they must be able to discuss these issues with their patients and communities clearly.

How Can Health Professionals Support Climate Health

1. Join our Health Program

Connect and network with other health professionals who share your passion for improving public health: CleanAIREnc.org/Health.

2. Become a Health Advocate

Health professionals are leading the call for cleaner air and a healthy climate in North Carolina. Join our advocacy network for unique opportunities to engage people and policymakers on climate, health, and equity.

3. Check Your Local Air Quality Forecast

Knowing your local air quality can help you improve care for patients who are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Check your forecast at airnow.gov.

4. Create an Asthma Action Plan

Prepare for future air quality alerts  or poor air quality days by implementing an asthma action plan. This can correspond with the Air Quality Index (AQI) to pretect patients with asthma or other underlying respiratory issues.