School of Nursing lecturer Lorraine Fields

UOW Nursing lecturer recognised for work in sustainability

UOW Nursing lecturer recognised for work in sustainability

Journal applauds work to embed sustainability in curriculum

University of Wollongong (UOW) School of Nursing lecturer Lorraine Fields has been recognised for her work in embedding sustainability in the curriculum.

Nurses can play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable practices within healthcare facilities by advocating for resource conservation, waste reduction, and environmentally friendly practices. Embracing sustainable practices in nursing can lead to cost savings, improved efficiency, and enhanced resilience of healthcare systems, ultimately fostering a healthier and more equitable world for all.

Industry research journal Contemporary Nursing recently listed Mrs Fields in a paper celebrating Australian nurses who are leading the response to climate change.  

Mrs Fields said her inclusion on the list was humbling.

“I've been involved in a group of nurses across several universities in Australia, and our group focuses on bringing attention to nurses that are taking action towards climate change,” Mrs Fields said.

“I’ve been working to embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into nursing curriculum and educating the next generation of nurses about the goals.  

The SDGs are a set of 17 global goals adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. UOW became a signatory to the University Commitment to the SGDs in 2019 and is embedding the goals in operations and strategic plans. 

“I've rewritten the capstone subject that UOW Bachelor or Nursing students take so that the SDGs were the main focus, aligning with the University’s commitment to SDGs and helping to create graduates who are global citizens,” Ms Fields said,

“Well over 1000 students have now completed the revised course.

“The focus has obviously been on SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing, which is the easiest for nurses to relate to. And nurses, working in a primarily female dominated field also have some connection to SDG 5 Gender Equality.

SDG 12: Responsible Production and Consumption  and SDG 13: Climate Action also help our students to recognise the significant waste that can happen in hospitals and whilst they're not 100 percent sure what to do about single use plastics used in care, they certainly want to make change.

“We're also trying to be very environmentally and sustainably conscious in the nursing labs.

“There are so many single use items that are thrown out because of the risk for infection and contamination. We're trying to have our students think critically about the care they are providing and if it's what we call “low value” care.

“There's also some argument about whether you need to wear gloves for certain procedures, if there's no risk of blood or contamination, nurses should consider whether you need to wear gloves for those procedures?

“In the nursing labs we’re getting students to stop and think about their processes and to be cautious when doing a procedure. For example - if you contaminate the field you have to start again. So students are encouraged to take that extra time to prepare and ensure they’re not dropping things on the floor or forgetting things and having to start over,” Mrs Fields said.