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Eugenia South, MD, MSHP: Nature and the Role of the Provider

Pediatrics is leading the way in prescribing nature.

As nature becomes more seriously looked at as a social determinant of health and a factor that could positively impact a patient’s over well-being, the provider must know their role in how the process can be most beneficial.

While community workers can offer nature counseling and help assess whether particular neighborhoods have enough safe space and green areas, the involvement of the provider varies from practice to practice.

“At the very least, I think talking about nature as a brief part of the interaction with physicians and patients—just like talking about exercise, just like talking about smoking cessation—is important for setting the baseline and expectation that this is something important,” Eugenia South, MD, MSHP, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview with HCPLive®.

After that, patients can spend more time with someone like a community health worker. During any given well visit, it is important where this should be covered.

So far, pediatrics has been leading the way in thinking about nature and its health benefits. South would like to see it talked about more in adults.

“Certainly, in primary care it’s the most important place to start,” she said.

There are room in other specialties like surgery to implement such programs as well.