After her bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Twente, Juliane Menting wanted to develop further in the field of psychology. She soon noticed that her interest was in health psychology. Juliane: "The choice for the master's in Health Psychology & Technology was quickly made. The campus and the friendly people in Twente certainly helped".
Within the master's programme in Psychology you can still specialize in different research fields. You can choose from five different specialisations. Why did you choose the track Health Psychology & Technology?
"Besides psychology, health is something that fascinates me a lot. Why do some people make healthier choices than others? What do people with chronic illnesses encounter and how can they best be supported in managing their symptoms and illness? And why do some people manage a disease better than others? These are just a few of the questions that I am still dealing with during my research. I find the link with technology particularly interesting. E-health applications are becoming more and more important and there is more attention for technology in healthcare and psychology. For example, in my PhD research I investigated the effects of a blended-care treatment for people with chronic fatigue and type 1 diabetes; a treatment that is carried out partly via the internet and partly via face-to-face contacts. The treatment turned out to be effective and is now offered in regular care. That's very nice to see", Juliane explains.
You are now project manager Care & Participation Monitor at Nivel in Utrecht. Do you still use the Health Psychology & Technology track a lot?
Juliane: "Certainly, I still use a lot of the knowledge and skills I learned during the Health Psychology & Technology track. As project leader Care and Participation Monitor at Nivel, I am coordinating a large-scale and long-term research project into the experiences with care and participation of people with a chronic illness or disability in the Netherlands. In addition, I do a lot of research on this subject and I make grateful use of the research skills I learned during the master's programme. Drawing up project ideas and research questions, analyzing quantitative and qualitative data and presenting the findings to various stakeholders are part of this".
Now that you've found a job in which your studies have been important, have you run into something you missed in the study programme?
Juliane: "In my job I work a lot with other researchers, just as often with other stakeholders such as healthcare professionals, policy makers or patients themselves. That requires a different communication. For example, it is important to be able to explain your research in understandable 'lay language'. Many healthcare providers are extremely busy and a communication style that is 'to the point' helps. It would have been nice to learn during the study which stakeholders you can deal with, how you communicate with them and how best to present your research to people outside the study".
From everything you say, I understand that your work is very dynamic and focused on people. Can you tell me something about the social challenges in your current job?
Juliane says: "At the Netherlands Institute for Healthcare Research (Nivel) we combine scientific research with social relevance. There is a lot of collaboration with policy institutions and civil society organisations. Many of the research findings are applied in practice. For example, I recently collaborated on the study 'Unlimited Participation' in which we looked at the participation of people with disabilities in society. Our findings have been presented and discussed in the Lower House of Parliament and are used to shape policy for this group. It is very nice to see that your research findings do not just end up on a shelf, but are actually used in practice".
You might be used to working with different disciplines during your study at UT. How do the different disciplines come together in your job or research?
"I work a lot with co-researchers, but also with people who have a different background. For example, people from the medical world (healthcare professionals), experience experts and patient associations, or policy staff. The clients of our research are also diverse. We conduct a lot of research for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. But also for the Board of Human Rights or the Netherlands Healthcare Institute. That requires a lot of flexibility, but is especially fun and inspiring because you have to open up to other perspectives," Juliane explains.
Where do you see yourself - in terms of career - in a number of years?
Juliane: "I want to continue doing research that contributes to improving the situation of people with a chronic illness or disability. I find it especially important that my research is socially relevant and that the findings can be applied in practice".
Do you have any advice or tips for study seekers or for current students of Psychology?
"Try to get in touch early on with people working in the field you find interesting. Sometimes it's possible to do a 'try out' internship or a day at the organisation you like. Many people like to talk about their job/research and share their experiences over a cup of coffee or telephone/via LinkedIn", says Juliane.