Health Care Management students complete sustainability track for the first time

Green Planet Earth
Duurzame aarde in handpalm

Sustainability is a new and important theme within the Master's program in Health Care Management. On Friday, May 10th, students of this program completed their education for the first time during a spectacular closing symposium of the new track Sustainable Health Care. In this specialization, students are trained to become experts in sustainability, a expertise that is becoming increasingly essential in the healthcare sector. The track lasts for four months and includes two courses, Sustainable Care Systems and Sustainable Healthcare Organizations, and a thesis research on sustainability in healthcare.

Sustainable Health Care track

Given the significant ecological footprint of healthcare, there is a growing demand for professionals who can contribute to environmentally friendly healthcare solutions. It is therefore great that more than 50 students from the program have chosen to specialize in the theme of sustainability. By combining theory and practice, they are equipped with knowledge and skills to actively contribute to a sustainable and healthier future. Student Julide Celik has chosen the Sustainable Health Care track.

Student Julide Celik

"I believe it is fundamental to incorporate sustainability in our healthcare systems, to ensure a healthier planet for our next generations. This track highlights that healthcare is not only about treating patients, but also about preventive and reactive opportunities towards the sustainability challenges we face. I find it important to contribute to these aspects in my future career."

Planetary health: Challenges for the Rotterdam region

In February, the course Sustainable Care Systems started, coordinated by Dr. Maike Tietschert. Students explore the connections between the health and vitality of our planet, summarized as planetary health. They study the impact of climate change on health and the healthcare system. Additionally, they acquire skills in transdisciplinary collaboration, essential for developing sustainable healthcare systems. In teams, students develop transdisciplinary solutions for challenges in the Rotterdam region, such as heat stress or the spread of infectious diseases due to climate change.

Sustainable healthcare organizations

Next, students embarked on the course Sustainable Healthcare Organizations, coordinated by Dr. Jan-Willem Weenink. Here, students learn everything about making healthcare organizations more sustainable, and they work in teams on an analysis and approach to sustainability in practice, such as reducing packaging in the operating room, segregating waste in hospitals, and using reusable medical instruments. They also consider what is needed from a management and organizational perspective to achieve this. Student Yoep Koenen, who works in healthcare, is motivated to put his knowledge into practice.

Student Yoep Koenen

“This track really helped me understand the challenges facing healthcare to become more sustainable. The focus lies on the entire value chain in healthcare and not just one part or organisation. This track motivated me to get more involved at organising green initiatives at my current employer.”

Green impact in practice

With the new specialization in sustainability, the program aims to make a lasting impact in practice by training sustainability experts who create movement in the field, for example within healthcare organizations, government, or as consultants. There is a strong connection with practice, and students tackle challenges at regional and (inter)national levels. Finally, there are contributions from guest speakers from relevant parties such as ErasmusMC, TU Delft, the GGD, RIVM, and the Green Care Alliance. For each guest speaker, a tree is planted somewhere in the world. In total, this amounts to 15 trees, resulting in a CO2 impact of >13,800 kg CO2 reduction by the year 2034.

Spectacular closing symposium

Last Friday, students and teachers concluded their education with an inspiring closing symposium. Fifteen student teams presented their posters on healthcare sustainability. There were prizes for the best sustainable approach (on pathological research) and for the best poster design (on hospital waste). And there was the inspiration award, awarded by students themselves for the topic they want to work on tomorrow (namely food waste). We wish students success in completing their theses and look forward to their future impact on a sustainable and healthy society.

Since this academic year, students in the Master's program in Health Care Management, after completing 6 core courses in the first semester, choose a specialization in their second semester. In addition to the sustainability track, there are three other tracks, focusing on digital transformation, value-based health care, and personal leadership. Read more about the HCM program here.

Planetary Health at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management

The theme of Planetary Health is one of the themes in which ESHPM will be investing extra in the coming years, under the leadership of theme leaders Dr. Chiara Cadeddu and Prof. Dr. Erik van Raaij. Within this theme, research is conducted on the relationship between planetary health and health care, as well as on the sustainability of healthcare. The track within HCM is developed in alignment with the theme of Planetary Health and with the involvement of the theme leaders. As a result, the track is embedded in a larger movement within ESHPM to promote planetary health and sustainability.

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Do you aspire to be a critical thinking manager in the healthcare sector? Then the master's in Health Care Management is something for you.

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