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Challenges and Successes of Infusing Environmental Health Content in a Nursing Program


  • Jeanne Beauchamp Hewitt,

    1. Ph.D., R.N., is Associate Professor, College of Nursing, Associate Director, UW—Milwaukee Institute of Environmental Health, Director, Community Outreach and Education Programs, UW—Milwaukee Marine & Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
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  • Patricia R. Candek,

    1. R.N., M.S., F.N.P.-B.C., C.O.H.N.-S., is Senior Occupational Health Nurse, S. C. Johnson & Son Inc., Racine, Wisconsin
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  • Jessica M. Engel

    1. M.S., F.N.P., A.O.C.N., is Nurse Practitioner, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wisconsin
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Jeanne Beauchamp Hewitt, PhD, RN, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Cunningham Hall, 1921 East Hartford Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Environmental health has received minimal attention in nursing curricula over the past decade, despite efforts by the Institute of Medicine (1995) and others to advance the environmental health agenda in nursing education, practice, and research. This paper describes an initiative that was first funded as a part of the Environmental Health Scholars Program in 2000 to incorporate environmental health into master's and undergraduate nursing programs at one university. Evaluation of this initiative highlights the challenges and successes experienced in this academic setting. A number of recommendations based on this experience and the literature are offered. There is a perceived need to define the critical body of knowledge and skills in environmental health and to develop tools to enable educators and practitioners to apply this knowledge in public health nursing and other specialty practices. In tandem, opportunities and incentives are needed to encourage faculty development and the infusion of environmental health into existing curricula. Changes are also needed across practice settings to proactively address environmental health issues so that environmental health becomes and remains an integral part of nursing.