SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — We’ve all seen the headlines about the heat wave that hammered the Pacific Northwest. But the Midwest is increasingly no stranger to skyrocketing temperatures — causing both drought and life-threatening heat conditions.

So where are these sizzling heat waves coming from? What do they do to your body? And how can you keep yourself safe?

In the latest episode of The Health Variant podcast, host and NewsMD Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks to Dr. Teddie Potter of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, who's got some answers to those questions, and then some.

Potter is an professor at the nursing school, is a leader in the U of M's Climate Change and Health curriculum and she’s also the nursing school's first-ever director of planetary health (That's quite a title — we asked about that too).

Potter is a steering committee member of the Planetary Health Alliance at Harvard, chair of the Environment and Public Health Expert Panel of the American Academy of Nursing and she also helped lead the Nurses Drawdown initiative, sponsored by Project Drawdown and the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environment.

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Potter discusses the latest decade climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), detailing the startling degree to which our climate has changed. Spoiler alert: It's changed a lot.

"The Health Variant" digs into health topics important to the region, such as fitness, COVID-19, cannabis and telehealth, introduces listeners to must-know places and people and offers behind-the-scenes reporting.

NewsMD is a Forum Communications brand focusing on health and health care reporting, primarily in the Upper Midwest, including coverage of industry news, research, trends, technology, economic and policy issues.

"The Health Variant" is available on major podcast apps, including:

For comments or podcast episode topic suggestions, contact Fugleberg at or on Twitter: @jayfug.