College of Nursing

Elizabeth C. Schenk

Elizabeth C. Schenk

Adjunct Professor
Elizabeth C. Schenk
Adjunct Professor

Human health is affected by many factors. Nursing has long been concerned with the individual in the context of his or her environment, which often meant family, or immediate surroundings. At this point in our human history, it is clear that human health is also affected by the condition of the larger natural environment. Effects on human health can be positive such as health benefits from being outdoors, or from having handsome views of natural landscapes. Or health effects can be negative, such as the effects of climate change on health, or health impacts from exposures to toxic chemicals. Health care, including nursing practice, serves the purpose of creating, achieving, and sustaining health for the people and communities it serves. At the same time, health care itself furthers damage to the natural environment through the significant contributions it makes to climate change, waste accumulation, and the use of environmental toxicants. Nurses are guided by their standard of practice, which states “The registered nurse practices in an environmentally safe and healthy manner.” Yet, the topic of environmental impacts of health care and nursing practice is not routinely addressed in education curricula. In order to decrease the harm caused by environmentally damaging health care practices, information about the topic needs to be addressed in the education of clinical professionals.

At the same time, little is known about the awareness of practicing nurses of environmental impacts of nursing practice. In response to this gap, I developed the Nurses Environmental Awareness Tool, to measure nurse awareness and associated behaviors. This set of six scales can be adapted to other clinical professions to measure awareness and behaviors related to the environmental impacts of health care in clinical settings.


  • PhD Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, WA
  • MHI Healthcare Innovation, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • BS Nursing, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • BA Botany, University of Montana, Missoula, MT


  • Spirit of the Heart Award, 2006
  • Environmental Leadership Circle Inductee for St. Patrick Hospital, 2010
  • Advocate of the Year, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Missoula, MT, 2012
  • Sigma Theta Tau Research Grant Award, 2012
  • WSU College of Nursing Outstanding PhD Student, 2014
  • Board Certification in Nursing Professional Development



Schenk, E., Butterfield, P, Postma, J, Barbosa-Leiker, C, Corbett, C. (2016). Creating the nurses environmental awareness tool (NEAT). Workplace Health and Safety, In Press.

Schenk, E., Corbett, C., Barbosa-Leikert, C., Postma, J., & Butterfield, P. (2016). Psychometric properties of the Nurses' Environmental Awareness Tool (NEAT). Journal of Nursing Measurement In Press.

Schenk, E., Mayer, D., Ward-BArney, E., Estill, P., Goss, L., & Shreffler-Grant, J. (2016). Registered Nurses’ (RNs) Perceptions of a Newly Adopted Electronic Health Record (EHR) Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(3).

Monsen, K.A. Schenk, E., Schleyer, R, Schiavenato, M, (2015). Applicability of the Omaha system in acute care nursing for information interoperability in the era of accountable care. The American Journal of Managed Care, September, 2015.

Butterfield, P; Schenk, E; Eide, P; Hahn, L;Postma, J; Fitzgerald, C; ONeal, G, (2014). Implementing AACN’s Recommendations for Environmental Sustainability in Colleges of Nursing: From Concept to Impact. Journal of Professional Nursing. 30(3), 196-202.

Huffling, K; Schenk, E, (2014). Environmental sustainability in the intensive care unit: Challenges and solutions. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly. 37(3), 235-250.


Poster Presentation: Greening a Hospital at Clean Med, May 2009

Poster Presentation: Social Network Mapping at CPM Conference, January 2011

Innovation Jamboree Presentation on Greening Hospitals at CPM Conference, January 2011

Panel Discussion on Positive Deviance at CPM Conference, January 2011

Panel Discussion on tracking medical waste at Clean Med, April, 2011

Poster Presentation on Environmental Sustainability Assessment Tool at ICCHNR Symposium, Edmonton, Alberta, May, 2011

Poster Presentation on NEAT Instrument Development, Phase I at Western Institute of Nursing Research Conference, Portland, Oregon, April 2012

Poster Presentation on Educational Approaches to Environmental Health Nursing at Western Institute of Nursing Research Conference, Anaheim, CA, April 2013

Podium Presentation on Environmental Stewardship in Healthcare at Washington State Society of Healthcare Engineers, Tacoma, WA, September, 2013

Podium Presentation on Environmental Stewardship in Healthcare at Washington State Public Health Association Conference, Wenatchee WA, October, 2013

Panel Discussion on Environmental Stewardship in Nursing Practice at the American Public Health Association Conference, Boston, MA, November, 2013

Poster Presentation on NEAT Instrument Development, Phase II at Western Institute of Nursing Research Conference, Seattle, WA, April 2014

Podium Presentation on Environmental Stewardship in Nursing Curricula at the International Rural Health Research Conference, Bozeman, MT, July 2014

Schenk, E., Schleyer, R. (2015, April). Capturing Complexity: Use of TimeCaT and the Omaha System to Study Multi-tasking Activities of Acute Care Nurses. In 2nd Annual International Conference on Research Methods for Standardized Terminologies. (April 15, 2015).

Schenk, E. (2015, April). Environmental Health Risks: Perspectives from Research, Education, and Practice. In 48th Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference (April 22-25, 2015). WIN.

Schenk, E. (2015, April). Acute Care Nurses’ Awareness of Environmental Impacts of Nursing Practice. In 48th Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference (April 22-25, 2015). WIN.

Schenk, E., Breed, P. (2015, May). Engaging Nurses for Environmental Stewardship. In Clean Med Conference (May 6-8, 2015).

Schenk, E., Schleyer, R. (2015, September). Measuring the Impact of Adoption of a Comprehensive EHR on Nursing Care. In 4th Annual Providence California Region Nursing Research Conference. (September 17, 2015).

Schenk, E. (2015, October). Environmental Stewardship in Perioperative Care. Northwest Perianesthesia Conference (October 17-18, 2015).

updated 3/2016

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