Methods: Surveys are being created for distribution to nursing schools and hospitals, within the state of Connecticut (USA), that will assess for the need for inclusion of curriculum, annual education and continuing education offerings to assess for environmental health issues, and the nurse's role in assessment and care. An educational webinar is also being offered to provide information on environmental health issues and related nursing interventions, with a pre/post test to assess for competency.
Results: This project is in process, however based on current research it is apparent that there remains a needs gap. The gap shows enhanced education requirements to create competency and nursing leadership in public health.
Conclusion: Environmental factors often disproportionately affect vulnerable and underserved populations. Exposure to toxic, environmental chemicals during critical windows of development (even prenatally) are linked to adverse health outcomes that span a lifetime and also impact fertility and pregnancy. In addition to the health impacts of chemical exposure, the economic impacts are staggering. The NIH projects that cancer costs will reach at least $158 billion by 2020.  Nurses are well suited to be leaders in protecting the public through environmental health education, evaluation, and research to incorporate this expanded view of environmental health. Therefore it is imperative that this knowledge be interwoven into nursing curriculum and offered as continuing education in all practice areas within nursing to improve competency.