Our Principles

  1. We are a community of medical students dedicated to protecting the health of our patients by fighting climate change. We are united in recognizing climate change as an urgent threat to health and human rights. We know that climate change is already harming human health and is on track to have increasingly severe health impacts, particularly for marginalized patients and communities. Motivated by love for our patients, communities and planet, we take initiative together to prevent and address climate change.
  1. We are medical students from diverse backgrounds and geographic regions. Our community is strengthened by the diversity of our members. We bring together students from diverse walks of life, including but not limited to race, gender, socioeconomic status and geography, and we work to foster leadership among members whose voices and perspectives are underrepresented in medicine and in climate conversations.
  1. We keep justice at the center of our work. As medical students, we see how our patients’ health is deeply shaped by social and structural determinants of health, including the environment in which people live. We recognize that environmental degradation has disproportionately harmed the health of communities of color and low-income communities. We work in solidarity with advocates for environmental and social justice, and towards climate solutions grounded in equity.
  1. We are a learning community. Knowledge of the health implications of climate change is extensive and evolving, with gaps needing further exploration. Our community is devoted to inquiry, information sharing, and life-long learning, so that we grow in our understanding of the health impacts of climate change and are prepared as physicians to care for, counsel, and advocate alongside our patients.
  1. We work to transform our institutions. Our medical schools and hospitals have an obligation to promote health and to prepare us as future doctors. However, our institutions do not yet address climate change adequately. Therefore, to protect our patients and to equip ourselves with knowledge and skills to care for them in the context of climate change, we advocate for sustainability and carbon footprint reduction, curriculum transformation, and support for student-led planetary health initiatives and research at our institutions.
  1. We lift each other up. Climate change and health inequities are vast and complex problems. To face them together, we lift each other up through encouragement, sharing examples of progress and hope, and elevating the stories and concerns of our members and patients who have been personally affected by climate change and its health inequities.
  1. We take collective action. While we care for our patients as individuals, we know that climate change is a health crisis on a mass scale, and that countering climate change requires us to mobilize together. We focus our efforts and communications on transformative, collective actions to combat climate change and improve patient health.
  1. We connect with others to create wide-reaching networks for action. We promote peer-to-peer collaboration across the national and international community of medical students, and we forge partnerships with allied organizations and across health professions to advance our mission of climate action and justice.

Our Principles are inspired by the Principles of Sunrise Movement and the Values of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. A PDF of MS4SF’s Principles is available here.

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