Embedding sustainability in the physiotherapy curriculum
Final year physiotherapy students are exploring the link between planetary health and public health.
Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the vehicle, a series of lectures and resources is encouraging final year Physiotherapy students to explore how planetary health is inextricably linked to public health. The sessions cover issues such as personal responsibility and role modelling, the professional obligations to consider the environmental impact of clinical practice, and the environmental influences on public health on a local, national and global scale.
Students are also encouraged to reflect on how they can act as advocates for patients/populations in terms of improving local environments, or access to sustainable means of living to widen accessibility and inclusivity of participation. Their assessment for the course involves working in groups to develop a public health intervention and accompanying business plan, incorporating sustainability as a key focus.
From 2023 these topics will be further integrated into the new MSc Pre-registration Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy programmes – exploring how societal and environmental inequality impacts health outcomes. Interprofessional collaborative group projects will consider SDGs in a public health capacity to propose solutions and interventions which address healthcare inequality within local areas in Wales. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has the inclusion of the interprofessional group project and inclusion of sustainability as a core concept in the programme.
Three cohorts of final year students have now experienced the module in which this topic is embedded, and feedback has been positive. One student said: "I have always believed in the transformative power of politics to influence public policy and I’m hopeful I’ll have the chance in a few years to get involved directly in that process through my work as a qualified physiotherapist." Another commented: "It has really motivated me to do more and encouraged me that there are so many changes that can be made to make such huge improvements to everyday life and health."
Read our environmental policies to learn how we embed sustainability across our operations.