Mara's story

MSc Student Experience

After completing her Bachelor's programme, Mara opted to move on to the MSc in Health Sciences @UTwente

Mara is a German national. Her Bachelor's programme marked the start of her student life in the Netherlands. A thorough search for the right programme and the right university brought her to Enschede. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree, Mara considered various other universities. In the end, she decided to move on to the MSc programme in Health Sciences @UTwente. She successfully completed this programme, and graduated on 8 January 2018.

this programme enables me to put patients first and foremostMara

Opting for a Bachelor’s programme in the Netherlands

When Mara set out to find a Bachelor’s programme, she started by finding out what German institutions were able to offer, within her range of interests. Being German herself, opting for a university in Germany would seem to be the obvious choice. She read all about the Health Sciences programme here. It was this, together with her parents’ encouragement to consider broader options – including those beyond the borders of her home country – that turned her thoughts to the Netherlands. It was her visit to the University of Twente’s Open Days that convinced her to study for a BSc in Health Sciences at this university. The main reason was the structure of the programme, which is more applied than its German equivalents. Also, in the Netherlands, you can start your studies at a university straight away, without first having to take a separate, healthcare-based preliminary course, as is sometimes the case for Health Sciences in Germany.

Moving on to the Master’s programme in Health Sciences

Together with several female friends who had also obtained a Bachelor’s degree in this subject, Mara went looking for a postgraduate course elsewhere in the Netherlands. She soon found out that Enschede was where she really belonged. “All of my friends were here, I knew the lecturers and they knew me. I also knew the Study Advisor, and my fellow students were here too. So I opted for the MSc in Health Sciences, as I could move on to this straight away after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences”, says Mara. She goes on to say that “What also appealed to me was that, here at the University of Twente, you can combine health management and policy subjects with health technology assessment. Later on, I opted to take the track within health technology assessment. I think it’s vital to put the patient first and foremost, and that is exactly what this course offers.”

The most interesting aspects of the Health Sciences programme

Mara adds that “what makes this programme really special is that, in the course of your studies, you pick up a lot of information from the Technical Medicine and Biomedical Engineering programmes. Various techniques are being developed here at the University of Twente, so Health Science students get involved in much of this work from the very beginning. This also teaches you about the technology involved, even if this is at a relatively superficial level.

It’s also great that the University of Twente has all this in-house expertise available, as this generates a lot of scientific research. So if you have an assignment and are looking for answers, you can always get in touch with PhD students or professors in that particular field of study. That’s a great help to anyone working on an assignment”. One of the assignments carried out by Mara and her fellow students involved the design and layout of an app. This was purely related to content; they did not have to create the app itself. There was a need for an app that could provide young adults with information about sex. In other words, this was an assignment that focused on a genuine social issue.

Mara graduates on 8 January

Her graduation date is already scheduled. She is currently putting the finishing touches to her thesis, while also preparing to give her graduation presentation on 8 January. “My final project is about evaluating eHealth components, such as electronic dossiers, apps for patients with chronic diseases, health trackers, etc. The goal is to find out whether the techniques involved are genuinely useful, and whether they have the desired effect for patients, doctors and care providers”, says Mara. “You want to find out which evaluation methods you need to use to get the right data. That’s tricky, as it turns out there is no single method that can evaluate everything. This is because these techniques involve a range of very different aspects”, explains Mara. While this is a purely university-based assignment, it does have a strong societal focus. She adds that “This is, of course, a topic for the future, as the range of eHealth options is growing all the time. Consider, for example, the massive increase in healthcare costs and the issue of how to deal with this. We could use eHealth approaches to help solve the problem of providing better care without incurring additional costs. This is a really great field of study!”

What might the future hold in store?

Mara says she is really keen to find a job in the area of eHealth, especially one where she could be of assistance to patients. “This could involve providing information or support for patients, or improving the quality of care and of information about care and diseases,” says Mara. “For me, it’s about putting patients and their contacts with care providers first and foremost – always. For instance, how will a particular treatment affect an individual patient, what do healthcare processes involve, and how can you find out what will work for a given patient? In terms of potential employers, I am considering Ecare, or Medisch Spectrum Twente (the Medical Spectrum Twente Hospital Group). My ideal hospital job would involve working to grow their social media presence. She adds that “The new generation is, of course, familiar with everything social media has to offer. Such media are great channels for the provision of information” she continues.

What would be your advice to anyone searching for a suitable Master’s programme?

“I would definitely recommend that they drop in at the Master's Open Days, as well as the Masters of Impact Weeks. The Open Days offer you more general information about the MSc, while the Masters of Impact Weeks give you in-depth information about the various tracks and subjects you will be taking. Checking out a whole range of programmes helps you find the postgraduate course that is right for you and, therefore, right for your future!” says Mara.