Incorporating Sustainable Healthcare teaching into a new final year curriculum at the Newcastle University
In 2018, the GMC published a new “Outcomes for Graduates” document, which specifies that new graduates must be able to apply sustainable healthcare to medical practice. This places a new obligation onto medical educators to ensure sustainability is incorporated into the medical school curriculum. Newcastle University has been designing a new final year curriculum providing an ideal opportunity to reimagine how sustainable healthcare education is delivered.
Building on 3rd and 4th year teaching, we wanted to use the new fifth year curriculum as an opportunity to embed sustainability in a spiral curriculum format. New learning outcomes were added to the fifth year curriculum including understanding sustainable healthcare in everyday practice, demonstrating awareness of organisational sustainability policies and legal frameworks, and understanding students’ roles as future doctors in achieving sustainable healthcare.
We developed a half-day “Good Medical Practice” session to be delivered in the first few weeks of fifth year, with sections on the organisational and legal frameworks of sustainable healthcare, a debate on the role of environmental activism of doctors, and opportunity to design a theoretical sustainability QI project.
In the new curriculum, all fifth years will undertake an assistantship In General Practice over two semesters. In semester one, we have incorporated a sustainability theme and developed an online MLE tutorial focusing on implications of climate change on human health and improving sustainability within General Practice. This tutorial also introduces sustainability QI (susQI) projects, which the students will then perform in the second semester of their assistantship within their practices. They will have the opportunity to present their work to their peer group.
Our hope is to integrate and embed sustainable healthcare through the new curriculum, motivate medical students to become sustainable practitioners and equip them with the knowledge and power to make changes in their practice.