Health and Environment Adaptive Response Task Force
The Health and Environment Adaptive Response Task force (HEART) is a group within the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) that was established in 2016 to help coordinate advocacy efforts among Canadian medical students regarding current issues in environmental health and climate change. HEART has worked on raising awareness about planetary health through various avenues, including supporting national events, such as Fridays for Future in Sept 2019. We have also developed a set of core curricular competencies that address the main environmental issues to be included in the medical school curriculum across Canada.
2019-2020 HEART Committee Members: Sasha Létourneau (Queen's University), George Tjensvoll Kitching (University of Western Ontario), Celia Walker (University of Calgary), Meghan Kerr (University of Toronto), Andréa Brabant (University of Ottawa), Jacob Carson (McMaster University), Kelan Wu (McGill University), Owen Luo (McGill University), Aishwi Roshan (University of British Columbia), Chenchen Xu (University of Ottawa)
2018-19 HEART Committee members: Finola Hackett (University of Alberta), Sasha Létourneau (Queen’s University), Arianne Cohen (University of Toronto), George Kitching (University of Western Ontario), Jessica Benady-Chorney (McGill University), Kelsey MacQueen (University of Calgary), Tiffany Got (University of Toronto) , Natalya O’Neill (University of Toronto)
Current HEART Initiatives
1. Curricular Competencies
Climate change is inextricably linked to public health. HEART has been working since its creation to incorporate learning of the crucial links between climate and environmental changes and health in medical curricula, through the creation of a set of core competencies for integration in education nationwide. HEART’s aim is to incorporate planetary health teaching into all Canadian medical schools’ curricula by 2020, in line with the IFMSA’s 2020 vision.
Read more about HEART's curricular competencies initiative on the Curricular Competencies Page
We have also completed our first evaluation of the status of planetary health education at all 17 Canadian medical school! See our results on the Planetary Health Competencies Curriculum Evaluation Page
2. Greening Healthcare Initiative
The Canadian Healthcare System is a significant contributor to climate change in Canada and worldwide. We at CFMS HEART believe that medical students can play a significant role in helping to mitigate this effect. We have two exciting initiatives for medical students to participate in greening our healthcare system:
- Project Green Healthcare – A network of Canadian medical students conducting needs assessments and quality improvement projects in hospitals with the aim of providing more green healthcare. Students will be provided with funding (up to $2,000 per group), mentorship, and training to complete their projects. Applications to participate in Project Green Healthcare will be available in late summer 2020. Stay tuned!
- Choosing Greening – Educational materials for medical students to inform more green choices in day-to-day medicine. We are very interested in interviewing physicians who may have anecdotal evidence on how they are able to optimize green practise within their specific specialty or setting.
Interested in learning more about these initiatives? See our Greening Healthcare Page.
3. HEART Network
The HEART Network consists of Environmental Sustainability / Climate Change Officers / Environmental Interest Group leads, in addition to any other interested Canadian medical students. The Network collaborates with the core HEART Committee on local environmental health & sustainability initiatives. This may include:
- Assessing the status of climate change, environment and health related curricular and extra-curricular educational initiatives at their school
- Working with local experts and faculty members to advocate for integration of the HEART national core competencies into the curriculum.
- Organizing local awareness events/initiatives on environment and health, and participating in national initiatives (e.g. HEART Earth Week Initiative)
All members of the HEART Network are invited on an open basis to join HEART Skype/teleconference meetings held by the HEART Committee (note: these meetings are entirely optional for members of the Network). The HEART Committee will send out updates to the HEART Network via email between meetings.
If you are interested in becoming part of this national network, please fill out this form
4. Awareness Initiatives
HEART has had great success thus far with events and contests that are intended to increase the knowledge and awareness of medical students towards environmental issues.
Our 2020 Earth Week Contest featured two COVID-19 related challenges:
- Connecting with nature while socially isolating - Medical students were encouraged to get outside safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and post pictures of their favorite outdoors locations. We encourage everyone to continue getting outdoors safely to prioritize their mental and physical health. Please see the infographic below regarding safe practises during COVID-19.
- Messages to our leaders – Medical students were encouraged to share posts that promoted a sustainable and environmentally conscious post-pandemic stimulus plan for Canada. Please see an example of one of these messages below.
5. Monthly Newsletters
Each month, the HEART committee puts together a newsletter to inform Canadian medical students about our activities and initiatives and various other news and updates related to climate change and health, including links to research in this area, winning photos from last year’s photo contest, tips on how you can practice “Green” medicine and lots of other interesting updates!
To see our past newsletters, click here.
6. Educational Materials
Interested in learning more about planetary health? See some recommended resources below. Pros and cons for each resource can be found in this google doc.
- Harvard University: (edX course): The Health Effects of Climate Change.https://online-learning.harvard.edu/course/health-effects-climate-change.
- Yale School of Public Health: An 18-week Online Certificate Giving You Tools to Address the Health Impacts of Climate Change. https://publichealth.yale.edu/cchcert/.
- Coursera, Yale University: Climate Change and Health: From Science to Action Specialization. https://www.coursera.org/specializations/climate-change-and-health.
- Insitut National de Santé Publique du Québec/ Quebec’s National Institute of Public Health : (MOOC) : Changements climatiques et santé : prévenir, soigner et s'adapter. https://www.fun-mooc.fr/courses/course-v1:inspq+117001+session03/about.
- Iversity: (MOOC): Climate change and health. https://iversity.org/en/courses/climate-change-and-health.
- Future Learn: The Impact of Climate Change on Public Health. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/climate-change-public-health.
- The Province: "Sasha Letourneau, Kevin Liang and Finola Hackett: Medical students take a stand on climate change." Published September 16, 2019. Link: https://theprovince.com/opinion/op-ed/sasha-letourneau-kevin-liang-and-finola-hackett-medical-students-take-a-stand-on-climate-change
- Authors: Sasha Létourneau, Queen's University Class of 2021, Kevin Liang, University of British Columbia Class of 2020, Finola Hackett, University of Alberta Class of 2019, HEART Chair (2017-18 and 2018-19)
- CMAJ Blogs: "The Future of Climate Change: The HEART Initiative." Published June 24, 2019. Link: https://cmajblogs.com/the-future-of-climate-change-the-heart-initiative/
- Authors: Finola Hackett, University of Alberta Class of 2019, HEART Chair (2017-18 and 2018-19) and Tiffany Got, University of Toronto Class of 2021, HEART Committee (2018-19).
- Edits were contributed by HEART 2017-18 members: Julia Sawatzky, University of Alberta MD Class of 2021, Itai Malkin, University of Ottawa MD Class of 2019.
- CFMS Annual Review 2019: "Accountable for our patients & our planet," page 12-13. Published April 2019. Link: https://www.cfms.org/files/annual-review/annualreview2019.pdf
- Author: Finola Hackett, CFMS HEART Chair (2017-2019), University of Alberta Class of 2019
- Editors: Jessica Benady-Chorney CFMS HEART Committee Member, McGill University Class of 2021; George T. Kitching, CFMS HEART Committee Member, Western University Class of 2021
- CMAJ News: "Why aren't more doctors talking about climate change?" Published March 12, 2019. Link: https://cmajnews.com/2019/03/12/why-arent-more-doctors-talking-about-climate-change-cmaj-109-5731/
- Author: Lauren Vogel
- CMAJ News: "Medical students call for more education on climate change." Published: February 19, 2019. Link: https://cmajnews.com/2019/02/19/medical-students-call-for-more-education-on-climate-change-cmaj-109-5717/
- Author: Caroline Mercer
Relevant and Useful Links
- - Climate Change Webinar with Gideon Forman (The David Suzuki Foundation) https://youtu.be/DNWMNTRJ-2M
- - Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: https://cape.ca
- - CMAJ article on CMA’s divestment from fossil fuels: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/187/14/E425
- - WHO Climate change home page: https://www.who.int/globalchange/en/
- - Lancet Countdown: Tracking the Connections between public health and climate change: http://www.lancetcountdown.org
- - The Global Climate and Health Alliance: http://www.climateandhealthalliance.org