As part of MDC’s One Health initiative, we are happy to bring you a project we have been working on which focuses on the health benefits of being out in nature. Inspired by the Park Rx movement, we hope that through sharing information on this topic we can better support the health of our citizens and facilitate a connection with nature.
Goal: The Missouri Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics is partnering with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Missouri State Parks, and Park RX America to prescribe the health benefits of nature to their patients and share the positive impacts of conservation-related activities and programs offered in the state.
Through this partnership, pediatric providers will learn how to prescribe nature to families and children as a way to manage and treat health issues by spending time outdoors and in nature. Research shows that just spending time in nature can improve an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. However, we also understand the value the outdoors provides to those who participate in conservation activities such as hunting and fishing, especially if this is done in a social setting with friends and family. The memories created last a lifetime.
In order to achieve maximum success, the partnership hopes to train a small group of 30 physicians on the nexus of nature and human health. This will be accomplished through the accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) course offered by Park RX America. The course objectives include describing the current state of physical and mental health, summarizing the evidence for nature and human health, and demonstrating how to incorporate nature-based interventions into daily practice. In addition, the physicians, will establish relationships with the MDC nature center managers to become familiar with the programs, services, and conservation areas available within their local region. The desire is to ensure the physicians understand and appreciate the opportunities available themselves, so they are more likely to prescribe nature, connecting their patients to these areas for improved health, from a place of personal experience.
The first cohort of physicians has interested individuals from Kansas City, St. Louis, Ozark, Hannibal, Kirksville, Poplar Bluff, Columbia, and Jefferson City. The physicians will begin the nature training program in late May and continue through the end of 2021. To encourage continued participation, a small incentive program will be established based on defined criteria such as the number of prescriptions filled. Physicians who meet the criteria will be entered into a raffle for a $100 gift card to an outdoor retailer. A total of 10 gift cards will be awarded.