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Letters to the Editor

In Reply to Young

Sheffield, Perry E. MD, MPH; Wellbery, Caroline MD, PhD

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003198
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We concur with Young regarding the chronic neglect of climate and health teaching in medical school. Thankfully, the examples of medical schools including climate change and health content in their curricula continue to expand.1,2

In representing medical students, Young’s comments are particularly timely. Supervising faculty at medical institutions with early initiatives in the United Kingdom have begun to engage students as drivers of change.3 Those who are students now will face a world increasingly affected by climate change. Their collective voice may be more powerful than they realize. At Georgetown University School of Medicine, a student interest group is currently charged with investigating opportunities for curricular change, working toward local sustainable practices and engaging in related clinical research projects.

As noted by Young, opportunities, and arguably also the imperative to inculcate clinicians with climate and health competencies,4 extend beyond the preclinical years. Students and clinicians at all levels can take advantage of a growing number of continuing medical education (CME) activities that focus on the clinical aspect of climate change. Yale offers CME as a multicourse certificate via online modules5; Mount Sinai has an annual “Clinical Climate Change” full-day conference that grounds all content with clinically relevant takeaways.6 Other longer-term post-residency opportunities include the University of Colorado 12–24-month fellowship for emergency medicine physicians,7 and, in multiple states, Clinicians for Climate Action groups.8 Further, in January 2020, ecoAmerica’s Climate for Health program launched a health professional guide for climate action.9 All of this programming, whether framed as training or advocacy, serves to mainstream this topic critical to not only patients’ health but also, ultimately, the effectiveness and timely intervention of medical professionals.

Perry E. Sheffield, MD, MPH
Assistant professor, Departments of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, New York;; ORCID:
Caroline Wellbery, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC.


1. Wellbery C. In Reply. Acad Med. 2019;94:1406–1407.
2. Friedrich MJ. Medical community gathers steam to tackle climate’s health effects. JAMA. 2017;317:1511–1513.
3. Tun MS. Fulfilling a new obligation: Teaching and learning of sustainable healthcare in the medical education curriculum. Med Teach. 2019;41:1168–1177.
4. Columbia University. Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (GCCHE) Core Climate & Health Competencies for Health Professionals. Published March 2018. Accessed January 30, 2020.
5. Yale School of Public Health. Continuing medical education. Updated September 24, 2019. Accessed January 30, 2020.
6. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 2nd Annual Conference: Clinical Climate Change. Accessed January 30, 2020.
7. Lemery J, Sorensen C, Balbus J, et al. Science policy training for a new physician leader: Description and framework of a novel climate and health science policy fellowship. AEM Educ Train. 2019;3:233–242.
8. The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. State-level activity. Accessed January 30, 2020.
9. Rehr RC, Perkowitz RM; ecoAmerica. Moving Forward: A Guide for Health Professionals to Build Momentum on Climate Action. Published 2019. Accessed January 30, 2020.
Copyright © 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges