School of Nursing Goes Green

In 2011, University of Maryland School of Nursing students, faculty, and staff organized a flash mob at the SMC Campus Center to promote recycling and celebrate Earth Day.

Now professors of the Environmental Health certificate program, Robyn Gilden, PhD ’10, RN, and Rebecca Shelley, PhD, RN, plan to expand upon the school’s “green” initiatives.

“We want to put environmental health into the hands of practicing nurses,” Gilden says.

Their mission is “to make the School of Nursing an example of environmental leadership in nursing education, practice, advocacy, and research by implementing stewardship practices within our institution and community.”

“This initiative is inherent to our profession as part of the ‘first, do no harm’ guiding principle of health care by creating, promoting, and sustaining practices and conditions that foster, rather than harm, the health of our students, co-workers, and beyond,” Shelley says.

The following are several of the initiatives the new committee is considering for the 2013-2014 academic year:

  • Assess School of Nursing building utilization and space and offer suggestions based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED criteria, such as a green roof, better lighting, and energy conservation.
  • Audit recycling bin locations and labeling.
  • Promote the University Farmers Market.
  • Green Meeting Guide.
  • Green Restaurant Guide with places that use local produce and maintain sustainable practices.
  • Green Office Program: “Who can be the most environmentally friendly by conserving energy or bringing reusable lunches, for example?”
  • School of Nursing Green Assessment Tool.
  • Collaboration with other UMB schools, The Universities at Shady Grove, and the University of Maryland, College Park

For more environmental health tips, download the Green RN app, a response to a call to action from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.

Even though Shelley and Gilden have an environmental background, Shelley’s interests started as a kid growing up in a small town in New York.

“It was a cancer cluster,” Shelley says. “Kids living less than 5 miles apart were dying of blood and brain cancers, and state officials identified several contaminated sites, but there was no one to speak for the community.”

Once Shelley started a career in nursing, she says, “It all came together for me. Nurses have uniquely skilled voices and ears and are consistently voted the most trusted profession. These qualities make us very well suited to serve as community and public health advocates.”

Shelley refers to Florence Nightingale’s writings on the impact of the environment on human health: “A healthy environment with clean air and water are needed in order to restore and facilitate optimal health,” Shelley says.

“We want to be role models,” Gilden adds, “to live by example, to make sure we aren’t doing harm, to help the environment, and educate others.”

— Tracy Gnadinger


Recycling Flash Mob from Patrick McAvoy on Vimeo.


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