From nurse to sustainable healthcare consultant

Stéphanie Richard, Consultant on sustainable healthcare

A blog post by Stéphanie Richard,
Consultant on sustainable healthcare

After 23 years as a nurse in various hospital roles, I made the decision to dedicate the remainder of my career to supporting healthcare structures in becoming sustainable and decarbonised. Additionally, I aspired to facilitate networking among these entities and promote the exchange of best practices.

It was during this period that a friend of mine shared an enlightening article with me about the Greening the Brussels healthcare sector project by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe. Why had I never heard of this fabulous organisation before?

Having recently started a training program at the Eco-Counselling Institute in Namur, I took the opportunity to finish my training with a 40-day internship. I proposed my services as an intern at HCWH Europe. My application was accepted, and my internship began in April 2023, focusing on the second phase of the Greening the Brussels healthcare sector project.

My objectives included:

  • Recruiting a new Brussels hospital for the project
  • Connecting the Brussels sustainable healthcare community
  • Conducting an analysis of the situation and needs regarding sustainable food in different partner hospitals
  • Providing occasional assistance on the topic of circular economy for medical equipment

Engaging with various sustainable development actors in partner hospitals proved to be an enriching experience. I benchmarked in Wallonia, met key players in institutional food services, and engaged with policymakers in Brussels. Leveraging skills developed throughout my nursing career, I effectively mobilised and engaged key stakeholders, collaborated with the HCWH Europe team and co-constructed initiatives. I gained insights into the intricacies of institutional food services in a hospital setting, navigating the tensions between sustainable food practices and the nutritional needs of patients, where my nursing skills proved to be very useful.

The HCWH Europe team provided unwavering support and guidance throughout my internship. I encountered a young, dynamic, and committed team with powerful values supported by caring and involved management. I discovered the strength of an internationally mobilised network for sustainable healthcare. I found that their dedication unfolded in various dimensions: supporting a network, conducting research, publishing, raising awareness, providing training, and lobbying with national and international authorities. This multifaceted commitment gives them unprecedented legitimacy and strength of action.

As my internship concluded in October 2023, I became a consultant, founding CARE-ACT-TERRE. I am hopeful for continued long-term collaboration with HCWH Europe.

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