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School of Nursing Goes Green
In 2011, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Nursing students, faculty, and staff organized a “flash mob” in the Southern Management Corporation 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,” says Gilden.
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, coworkers, and beyond,” says Shelley.
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 Challenge: “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, Universities at Shady Grove, and University of Maryland, College Park
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,” says Shelley. “Kids living less than five 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,” says Shelley.
“We want to be role models,” adds Gilden, “to live by example, to make sure we aren’t doing harm, to help the environment, and educate others.”
by Tracy Gnadinger