Nurses as Boundary Actors in Sustainable Health Care: A Discussion Paper




Nursing's Role, Environment


The devastating global health impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent and more frequent. Health care systems are increasingly burdened by the response to these impacts. Paradoxically, as they respond to the negative health effects of climate change, these same resource intense health care systems are contributing to further climate change. Organizations and academics have issued a call to action for health care workers to mitigate climate change and promote environmental sustainability. Nurses are an integral part of health care systems but have been delayed in answering this call. In this paper we argue that nurses are particularly well suited to mitigating climate change in health care systems because their existing role is central to patient care, and as a result they interface with other health care providers and have developed proficiency in articulation work.


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Author Biographies

Joanna Law, University of Alberta

Joanna is a Master of Nursing student with a focus in environmental sustainability and health care. Her clinical background is in adult critical care and addictions and mental health. It was during her time working as a bedside nurse that she noticed the amount of waste generated and the lack of waste diversion. This has inspired her to seek further education to learn more about how to create sustainable changes in health care. In her graduate practicum, she led and completed the Green Team Project for the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment. This project created the first national picture of health care green teams in Canada. She is excited to build on this project and engage in research to support environmentally sustainable changes in health care systems.

Dr. Kalogirou, Grant MacEwan University

Dr. Maya Kalogirou - Assistant Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing, MacEwan University

Dr. Kalogirou was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She is a Registered Nurse with a clinical background in emergency room nursing and has recently graduated from the University of Alberta with her doctorate in nursing. Her program of research relates to climate change, health, and nursing practice, and her doctoral work examined: 1) Albertan nurses' perspectives on climate change and health, and 2) how the hospital setting influenced nurses' abilities to practice in environmentally responsible ways. She is passionate about finding ways to help nurses get engaged with the climate crisis and plans to continue working on developing nursing leadership in this field. Maya is the Alberta Representative for the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment, a nursing group that is a member of the Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties of the Canadian Nurses Association.

Dr. Dahlke, University of Alberta

Dr. Dahlke is an associate professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta, Canada. She has received international recognition as a Gerontological Nurse Educator, a McCalla Teaching Award, and is a certified gerontological nurse. Her program of research aims to understand how to improve nursing practice with older people, and has been awarded funding from Canadian national funding, as well as other provincial funding bodies. Dr. Dahlke’s program of research focuses on three main themes: (1) how nurses in interprofessional teams can enhance care of older people; (2) examining and improving nursing education related to older people; (3) how nurses’ perceptions of safety and harm and their context influences their practice with older people. For the past three years much of her work has focused on improving how nurses are educated to work with older people. As a result, she has developed and tested three e-learning activities (based on finding from her previous studies) to enhance undergraduate nurses’ education about older people. These e-learning activities have been tested and refined. Student nurses rate them as an interesting and helpful way to learn about older people.


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How to Cite

Law, J., Kalogirou, M. R., & Dahlke, S. (2021). Nurses as Boundary Actors in Sustainable Health Care: A Discussion Paper. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 3(2), 36–46.
Received 2021-06-08
Accepted 2021-11-16
Published 2021-12-18