June 12, 2010

Training healthcare providers to speak up for human health and the environment

The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of PSR (SF PSR) is one of the oldest and largest in the country, with a membership of over 4,000. In California, SF PSR is a leading organization in providing scientifically credible advocacy on security and environmental health issues. Our members are considered experts on many different topics and are regularly called upon to speak in hospitals, at press conferences and symposia, and before policymakers. As a chapter however, we recognize that there is great potential to increase our education efforts to maximize the impact of the clinical voice.

Health professionals are recognized as trusted experts on health-related issues, not only in the clinic, but also in the community-at-large. Well-informed and prepared clinicians can dramatically influence and educate our communities and decision-makers. It is not enough to provide them with the scientific information about a particular subject so they become effective public speakers. It is about opening up a myriad advocacy avenues through which they can use their expertise and influence most effectively.  These advocacy avenues include communicating important environmental health information to their patients and families, serving in local and state government, participating on hospital sustainability committees, working with the media, and tapping into health professional networks and associations to promote effective public policy.

SF PSR has a long history of peer training and involvement by members in advocacy and education. Our chapter delivers over 60 presentations per year from a speaker’s bureau consisting of practitioners who volunteer their time for Grand Rounds presentations, expert legislative testimony in Sacramento, media advocacy, community events, and local and national conferences. SF PSR members are responsible for facilitating the passage of over 15 resolutions in the past ten years through the California Medical Association and the American Public Health Association focused on improving environmental health of our communities and the health care sector.

To develop the skills of members to speak out on and advocate for solutions that impact our collective public health, SF PSR is launching the Healthcare Leadership Institute this year.  The goal of the Institute is to provide clinicians with the scientific information and advocacy skills that they need to become effective advocates on a range of issues in a variety of settings. Issue areas will include security, social justice, climate change, sustainable food in health care, and prevention of exposure to environmental toxins.

If you have an interest in participating in the development of this exciting new program, assisting with teaching or training, or donating dollars to help make this program a reality, please contact Lucia Sayre, Co-Director of SF PSR, at 510 845 1819 or luciasayre@sbcglobal.net.