American Board of Pediatrics launches education module on climate change

by Dr. Karina Maher and Dr. Lisa Patel
American Academy of Pediatrics chapter climate advocates, CA

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) launched the first ever maintenance of certification (MOC) module on climate change in June – called “Impact of Climate Change on Pediatric Health Care”. Two pediatricians and American Academy of Pediatrics chapter climate advocates from California, Karina Maher and Lisa Patel, created the ABP MOC Part 2 with the assistance of fellow pediatricians who proofread and piloted the module. The activity contains 20 questions linked to recent, open-source articles and provides continuing education credits.

This MOC activity aims to educate pediatricians about the health crisis climate change is causing. Children are one of the patient populations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  

Understanding these health effects will improve the clinician’s ability to counsel, treat, and care for their patients. Learning how climate change does not affect every person equally is an important step towards recognizing that structural racism can determine health outcomes.

By launching this groundbreaking module, the ABP is the first board certifying body to our knowledge to officially recognize climate change as a foundational health issue affecting the clinical care of patients in ways that require dedicated education. Discussions are ongoing to share the process with other medical boards with the goal of making it easier for them to follow suit.

The motivations and willingness to change within each board speciality will be unique and require continued advocacy to integrate this information for clinicians. As clinicians advocate to their boards, we hope the American Board of Pediatrics taking the first step will encourage others to create similar learning tools. Our patients deserve physicians who understand what this rapidly changing and unpredictable world will mean for their health. Physicians need touch-points throughout their medical education to build their understanding and practice on how climate affects health and be effective advocates to protect their patients from this grave public health emergency.