Doctors can now prescribe visits to the Canadian Museum of Nature through national Nature Prescription Program

OTTAWA, Aug. 30, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Families are getting ready to head back to school—and this year, they may be returning with a prescription for a dose of healthy learning from their doctor.

Today, thanks to a new collaboration with PaRx, a nationwide nature-prescription program, doctors can prescribe patient visits to the Canadian Museum of Nature to improve their health.

Backed by hundreds of studies, research suggests that connecting to nature is one of the best things a person can do for their health, from lowering symptoms of depression and boosting immune function to reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia. In fact, natural elements are so beneficial for mental health that just listening to recordings of birdsong or looking at photos of nature can measurably boost your mood.

When it comes to museum visits, a growing body of evidence suggests that spending time socializing among engaging galleries and interactive educational experiences can similarly improve conditions such as anxiety, stress and chronic pain.

“The health benefits of nature are well-known, and through this partnership we can offer a great introduction to many natural-history wonders and to the health benefits of a museum visit,” says Dr. Danika Goosney, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “This connection can inspire a further interest in and appreciation of nature, which can lead people in many positive directions.”

Another compelling ‘side effect’ of nature prescriptions is the protection it inspires for our planet. Research shows that people who are more connected to nature are more likely to participate in pro-environmental behaviours that extend beyond support for conservation.

With exhibitions that feature awe-inspiring sights like the full skeleton of a blue whale, tactile experiences with real ice in the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, or memorable educational interactions such as the Pacific Discovery Tank, the Canadian Museum of Nature has been inspiring respect and understanding of the natural world for generations.

The BC Parks Foundation launched PaRx in November 2020, starting in British Columbia then expanding to every province across the country by 2022. In under three years, over 11,000 healthcare providers—including over five percent of all physicians in the country—have registered to prescribe time outside for their patients’ health, helping to connect thousands of Canadians to nature. PaRx makes prescribing nature easy with a standard, evidence-based “2+ hours per week, 20+ minutes each time” recommendation. PaRx has also been endorsed by more than 80 major healthcare organizations including the Canadian Medical Association.

PaRx has made international headlines for its innovative approach to improving access to nature for better health, including partnerships with nature-based organizations like Parks Canada that enable prescriptions for free national park passes.

Healthcare providers in the National Capital Region registered with PaRx can now prescribe admission passes to the Canadian Museum of Nature for patients who could benefit from them the most. Studies show that patients are more motivated to make a change when advice is written down as a prescription.

“This is a critical decade for reversing climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as tackling mental health and chronic disease,” says Andy Day, CEO of the BC Parks Foundation. “Our goal is to connect Canadian families to nature in a consistent and meaningful way to benefit their mental and physical health and inspire a culture of environmental stewardship. Collaborating with the Canadian Museum of Nature is a new step in that direction.”

This isn’t the first time the Canadian Museum of Nature has shone a spotlight on Canada’s national nature prescription program. Last November, Vancouver family physician and Director of PaRx, Dr. Melissa Lem, received the museum’s 2022 Adult Nature Inspiration Award for spearheading the ground-breaking initiative.

“I was incredibly grateful for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s recognition last year of how much PaRx has changed the way we think about nature, biodiversity and health. And I’m even more grateful for this next bold step we’re taking together to make the health and educational benefits of nature more accessible to families across the National Capital Region,” said Dr. Lem.

As the first museum in Canada to join PaRx’s mission, the Canadian Museum of Nature provides a unique experience for patients to be inspired by Canada’s distinctive biodiversity and its geological underpinnings—both from inside and on the grounds of the museum’s historic castle-like building in downtown Ottawa.

Moreover, as PaRx continues to establish innovative partnerships with celebrated organizations like the Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s role as a leader in the field of nature and health is steadily growing. This past June, PaRx was also named a key partner in a €6.3 million international project on nature-based therapies that will provide a road map for communities worldwide that seek to introduce nature as a health intervention.

The BC Parks Foundation invites other partners, governments and funders to engage and collaborate with PaRx as it continues its mission to connect people to nature for their health.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences. It provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences, and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site,

Media contacts:

BC Parks Foundation
Jennie McCaffrey, Director of Engagement

Canadian Museum of Nature
Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations