Physician Network

The Physician Network brings physicians and other health professionals together to share best practices and to inspire one another in advocating for a sustainable and healthy future.

Our obligation & opportunity

The health care sector is on the front line of climate change, with patients bearing the shifting burden of disease attributable to climate change along with injuries and illnesses related to extreme weather events. Additionally, extreme weather and climate-related events can impact health care access, delivery, and supply chains.

Health professionals have a commitment to “do no harm,” yet the enormous environmental impact of health care operations in the United States is contributing to the climate crisis and the burden of disease. The health care sector produces an estimated 8.5% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and clinical care is the single largest factor driving health care emissions and pollution.

Physicians and other health professionals have an opportunity along with an ethical obligation to advocate for sustainable, resilient, net-zero emissions health care to protect the health and our future.

As an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics points out, “physicians and health organizations have obligations to use their influence, expertise, and resources to protect health, which includes promoting sustainability.” And many health care professionals recognize the importance of this aspect of their work. A recent survey showed 80% of doctors and nurses feel that addressing climate change is critical to their hospital’s mission and 75% want to reduce their environmental impact at work.

Get involved

Join our network 🡥

Leverage your influence and expertise to advance climate-smart health care. Take the first step today; join our network and sign up for our newsletter.

Get inspired your peers

Meet some of the network's physicians in action.

Attend CleanMed 🡥

Network with physicians, other health professionals and sustainability leaders at CleanMed and attend the annual Physician Network dinner.

Discover clinician awards, scholarships, & fellowships

Learn about the Emerging Physician Leader Award & Scholarship, Blair and Georgia Sadler Fellowship and the University of Colorado Climate and Health Science Policy Fellowship, and meet past recipients…

Learn about medical and clinical directors of sustainability 🡥

Learn how health professionals, sustainability leaders, and administrators are increasingly discovering the full value these positions can bring to their organizations.

Explore our grand rounds series

Check out the recordings of our grand rounds series: The path to climate-smart, net-zero emissions health care.

Get social 🡥

Join the network's Facebook group.

Share your story 🡥

Tell us about your sustainability work.


Physician Network goals

  • To create a network of physicians and other health professionals interested in promoting climate-smart health care through mitigation, resilience, and leadership
  • To lead and support physician and health professionals action to reduce the environmental impact of health care delivery
  • To engage physicians and other health professionals in advancing the broad agenda of Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm’s mission to transform health care worldwide so it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes an anchor for community resilience, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice

By joining our network, you will be a part of a growing, inspirational network of physicians and other health professionals committed to advancing sustainable, climate smart health care. In addition you will,

  • Learn about educational, networking and leadership opportunities that can support your sustainability journey
  • Receive support encouraging your leadership to make a commitment to sustainability and climate action
  • Be alerted to occasional policy advocacy actions and opportunities
  • Receive our e-newsletter to learn about the latest resources, news and opportunities
  • Be eligible for the Emerging Physician Leader Award and Blair and Georgia Sadler Fellowship if you are a medical student, resident or fellow

Physicians and other health professionals can be effective sustainability champions in a variety of ways including:

Health sector and hospital leadership

Physicians and health professionals can encourage their leaders to make a commitment to sustainability, for example by asking them to join Practice Greenhealth 🡥. In addition, they can encourage leaders to ensure their facility and community are resilient to climate impacts and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement. One important first step would be to ask leaders to sign a commitment such as the HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge 🡥. They can also join or start departmental and clinician sustainability committees, ask their leaders to appoint a medical or clinical director of sustainability 🡥, or lead a sustainability project.

Research

Physicians and health professionals can conduct research to better understand health care’s climate and environmental impacts and where to focus interventions. Such research can help accelerate health sector sustainability and support evidence-based decisions by sustainability and health care professionals.

Clinical practice

Given that clinical care is the single largest factor driving health care emissions and pollution, physicians and other health professionals can look at their clinical practice through an environmental or climate lens. They have many opportunities to make environmentally preferable clinical decisions for example by reducing low-value, inefficient care, prioritizing prevention, expanding telehealth, evaluating pharmaceutical prescribing and anesthetic gas practices and reducing the use of single-use devices.

Policy advocacy

As trusted messengers, physicians and other health professionals are powerful advocates for public policies that protect the health of their patients, communities and our environment. They can meet with legislators, submit comments to a regulatory agency, testify before a legislative committee, or sign petitions. They can also call on their health system to publicly support policies that support the transition to sustainable, resilient, net-zero health care at the local, state, and national levels.

Media

There are numerous opportunities for physicians and health professionals to engage the media through writing letters to the editor and op-eds, providing interviews, writing blogs or other articles, participating in podcasts and through social media to raise awareness about sustainable, climate-smart health care.

Resilience

Given that climate and weather events can significantly impact the health of patients along with health care access and delivery, physicians and health professionals have a vital role to play in ensuring that their facilities, patients and communities are prepared for the impacts of climate change. They can encourage their leaders to develop what the HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge describes as “a climate resilience plan anticipating the needs of groups in their community that experience a disproportionate risk of climate-related harm."



For more information contact Amy Collins, Health Care Without Harm medical director.