Doctors: sustainability and greening are part of the training

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Three-quarters of the doctors who responded to the Medisch Contact poll believe that sustainability and greening belong in medical training. A poll among a broader audience than doctors also yielded a comparable percentage of supporters.

Medisch Contact posed the following question via the newsletter and social media – LinkedIn and Instagram: should greening and sustainability become part of the training for medical specialists, working inside or outside the hospital?


Three quarters of respondents to the poll in our newsletter or social media indicated that they were in favor. Of those who responded via the newsletter, 73 percent responded affirmatively to the poll question. 75 percent of them are doctors and 15 percent are medical students. The percentage of ‘yes’ voters among students was 79 percent higher than among doctors (72 percent). Taking into account all respondents to the poll in our newsletter, the average age is 48 years and 58 percent are women.

The percentage of supporters on LinkedIn was 74 percent and on Instagram 82 percent. Anyone could respond on social media, including non-medical professionals. A total of 293 people responded via the Medisch Contact newsletter, 626 via LinkedIn and 143 via Instagram. It is possible that respondents responded through different channels.

Things have changed

The responses show that proponents believe it is important that there is more awareness among doctors about the relationship between climate and health and how polluting healthcare is. According to them, the training can contribute to this. For example, one of them says: ‘Awareness seems to me to be a first step, perhaps residents will find inspiration during training to really change course and invent a more sustainable way of working than their predecessors.’ A selection of other responses: ‘If choices are possible, you must receive the information and realize it. Now it is 0’, ‘given the large ecological footprint of healthcare, healthcare providers’ knowledge of this really needs to be increased’ and ‘sustainability is a new idea in our profession and you don’t learn that automatically’.

Not a doctor’s job

Opponents believe that this is not part of the work of doctors or that other topics are more important. For example, someone writes: ‘The medical content is enough to learn AND keep up to date. Another: ‘I believe that this should not be part of training as a medical specialist, but a task for managers/boss and the like. The doctor must be able to focus (more) on doctoring.’ Someone also notes that the training will then become longer or that choices will have to be made. Some opponents consider the subject of sustainability and greening of healthcare to be important in itself, but they do not believe that this should be part of the training.

Increasing interest

‘Hopeful’, responds Juliette Mattijsen, medical student and affiliated with the Green Care Alliance, when she hears the percentage of proponents among doctors. The high percentage of supporters among students does not surprise her. This was previously evident from a survey by De Geneeskundestudent. ‘We notice that there is more and more interest from the courses.’ This usually means that the Alliance receives a request to provide education, according to Mattijsen, but not that making healthcare more sustainable is a structural part of the training. ‘The GPs are working on this.’

According to Mattijsen, education about this should already start during medical studies – not only about sustainability, but also about the impact of the ecological crisis on health and the social role of the doctor. Further training may then involve applying the knowledge within your own specialty. ‘I can imagine that sustainability means something different for general practitioners than for an anesthetist, for example.’

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