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Climate change: could it help develop ‘adaptive expertise’?

Abstract

Preparing health practitioners to respond to the rising burden of disease from climate change is emerging as a priority in health workforce policy and planning. However, this issue is hardly represented in the medical education research. The rapidly evolving wide range of direct and indirect consequences of climate change will require health professionals to have not only broad content knowledge but also flexibility and responsiveness to diverse regional conditions as part of complex health problem-solving and adaptation. It is known that adaptive experts may not necessarily be quick at solving familiar problems, but they do creatively seek to better solve novel problems. This may be the result of an acquired approach to practice or a pathway that can be fostered by learning environments. It is also known that building adaptive expertise in medical education involves putting students on a learning pathway that requires them to have, first, the motivation to innovatively problem-solve and, second, exposure to diverse content material, meaningfully presented. Including curriculum content on the health effects of climate change could help meet these two conditions for some students at least. A working definition and illustrative competencies for adaptive expertise for climate change, as well as examples of teaching and assessment approaches extrapolated from rural curricula, are provided.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the University Department of Rural Health (UDRH) at the University of Tasmania under an operating grant from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

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Correspondence to Erica Bell.

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Bell, E., Horton, G., Blashki, G. et al. Climate change: could it help develop ‘adaptive expertise’?. Adv in Health Sci Educ 17, 211–224 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-010-9245-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-010-9245-4

Keywords

  • Climate change and health
  • Adaptive expertise in medical practice
  • Innovation in medical practice
  • Problem-solving in medical practice
  • Rural medical education and training