Contributed by John Rehm, Nursing@Georgetown Online Community Manager
Prescription Nature: How Nurse Practitioners Are Combating Illness with Time Outdoors
With the number of obesity, hypertension and diabetes cases in America increasing, clinicians are implementing out-of-hospital tactics to treat and prevent these life-threatening chronic conditions.
Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies professor Lois Wessel, RN, FNP-BC, and online FNP program professor, spent a year conducting research as a Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Fellow on how green spaces, activity in nature and socio-cultural considerations play in chronic disease. Wessel’s research — which can be found in the January 2017 issue of The Journal for Nurse Practitioners — outlines the increase of nurse practitioners integrating time outdoors into patient care plans.
A primary benefit of being prescribed time outdoors is that it’s easily accessible and affordable. In a recent Nursing@Georgetown’s blog post, Wessel said that “Going outside can be a simple way to lift spirits, change moods, and entertain children. It’s free, healthy, and sorely needed by people who spend most of their day inside and plugged in. As a front-line clinician with patients experiencing both social and medical problems, I tell them to spend some time outdoors each day as part of an overall wellness plan.”
One example of a park and clinician partnership is Park Rx, which was launched by pediatrician Robert Zarr and endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and National Park Service. According to the Park Rx website, the initiative “is designed in collaboration with healthcare providers and community partners that utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health.” You can learn more about the Park Rx initiative at www.parkrx.org.
In recognition of American Public Health Week and the upcoming Park Rx Day on April 23, Nursing@Georgetown created the following infographic that describes the health benefits of spending time outside.