Julie Freischlag, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, yesterday participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House on educating tomorrow’s health leaders about the impacts of climate change on human health.
Freischlag, who also is Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences, was among more than 30 deans of medical, nursing and public health schools who took part in the roundtable. They signed a statement signifying their commitment “to ensuring that we train the next generation of health professionals to effectively address the health impacts of climate change.”
The roundtable was part of the activities undertaken by President Obama’s administration to observe National Public Health Week.
“It was a great honor and privilege for the UC Davis School of Medicine to have a seat at the White House roundtable,” said Freischlag. “Social responsibility and advocating for public policies that benefit the health of our patients, the community we serve and society at large are longstanding values at UC Davis. We look forward to examining our own curriculum for opportunities to address the effect of climate change on human health, and to working with our academic colleagues and the White House on making a difference on a national scale.”
The idea for the roundtable came from a “handful” of medical school deans, who also suggested the commitment statement, according to Angela Barranco, Associate Director for Public Engagement at White House Council on Environmental Quality. Additional deans were recommended to participate in the roundtable and to be signatories to the statement.
UC Davis is one of eight medical schools invited to attend the roundtable and to sign the commitment statement. Also participating were 15 schools of public health and eight schools of nursing.
The statement reads, “As leaders responsible for educating the nation’s health professionals of tomorrow, we are keenly aware of our obligation to ensure that they are fully prepared to address all health risks, including those resulting from the impacts of climate change.”
The document states that future health professionals must have the competencies needed to address the health needs of communities and patients, and that these competencies “must be based on the best available science, and benefit from sharing best scientific and educational practices.”
The signatories to the statement also agreed to follow up their participation at the roundtable by contributing their perspectives at a White House Climate Change and Health Summit later this spring.