Patricia Butterfield WSU Spokane

On her first day as the retired Dean of the WSU College of Nursing, Patricia Butterfield received an invitation from the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion on climate change and public health.

Under Butterfield’s leadership, the College of Nursing has had a focus on environmental health.

“As a public health nurse, I am pleased to see that the discussion around climate change has been connected to public health, and that our government recognizes the importance of this,” she said in a WSU news release. “If we aren’t taking care of the environment, we are not taking care of ourselves.”

The roundtable discussion took place last week in Washington D.C.

The WSU College of Nursing joined 30 other universities and health programs (PDF) in committing to ensuring the students they educate are prepared to address all health risks, including those brought on by the impacts of climate change.

The roundtable discussion was with senior administration officials (sadly, President Obama was not there) and was part of a series of discussions about this topic for National Public Health Week. The discussion centered on how to educate the future health professionals in relation to health impacts of climate change.

With longer allergy seasons, issues in some large cities with smog and extreme weather events, our climate does indeed impact our health. Being invited to this roundtable discussion is validation of the work Butterfield and the WSU College of Nursing does in this subject.