‘I also want to understand what happens in practice’
Nienke Bleijenberg, Senior Lecturer in Proactive Care for the Elderly, conducts research, teaches and works in the nursing field. What is the advantage of this combination?
Nienke Bleijenberg was recently appointed as Senior lecturer in Proactive Care for the Elderly at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. Her goal: helping to improve the quality and effectiveness of the care given to seniors who still live in their own homes. She combines the role of senior lecturer with her position as Assistant Professor in Nursing Science at the Julius Center. She also works as a district nurse at the Leidsche Rijn Julius Health Centers. What is the advantage of this combination of research, teaching and working in nursing?
Nienke: ‘Scientific research is essential to be able to provide excellent care. However, as a nurse researcher you also have to understand what happens in practice, because that’s where the questions and bottlenecks emerge. It’s also very important to me that nursing students at universities of applied sciences acquire up-to-date knowledge so that they are able to give good care to the elderly.’
Nienke spends half of her working hours at the HU University of Applied Sciences and the other half at the Julius Center. She explains: ‘The Julius Center has seconded me to the Leidsche Rijn Julius Health Centers. As a district nurse, I visit vulnerable seniors at home. I use examples from my nursing practice in my teaching and my practice also inspires my research. The knowledge we gain in our research is in turn fed back into our teaching.’
Nienke: ‘People increasingly continue to live in the own home in the final stage of their life. It’s important that we properly organize the care needed by this vulnerable group. That way, you can avoid emergencies, such as health issues that require emergency treatment or urgent hospital admission.
District nurses can make an important contribution to improving care. Together with the family doctor, we are the professionals who see the elderly, understand the issues they face and can take prompt action if necessary. We still see that not enough students choose this field and there is a shortage of highly trained district nurses. So as a senior lecturer, I hope to get lecturers and nursing students excited about district nursing and providing care to the elderly.’