In conversation with... Sanne Phaff

We spoke with Sanne Phaff. She completed both the pre-master’s and master’s programme Health Care Management (HCM), graduating in 2011. Today, she is a lactation consultant and runs her own two businesses: San Borstvoedingszorg and House of Milk. More on that later in this interview.

Back then, what made you choose the pre-master and then HCM? 

I initially enrolled in a physiotherapy programme, but found out pretty quickly that it did not quite suit me. After that, I was a Wmo Consultant at the Care Needs Assessment Centre. As a Wmo Consultant, I handled individual care applications under the Social Support Act 2015 (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning, Wmo) on behalf of various municipalities. Because I was unsure which direction I wanted to my career to take, I decided to meet with a career coach. I had the idea that I might want to work at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. That is when I stumbled upon the HCM pre-master’s and master’s programme.

And what did you think of these programmes?

They were fun and challenging. I had to get used to the academic rigour and the use of English, but I loved studying with a group of people who were all combining work and study. It was also interesting to see the other side of the healthcare system, rather than the hands-on practice you are used to as a physiotherapist.

What is the most valuable thing you learned during your studies?

I found it very interesting to learn how the healthcare system works, and also to find out more about logistics in healthcare and the health insurance system. In hindsight, learning about healthcare marketing was also very useful for me, since I now run two care-related businesses. I never could have predicted that. 

Which lecturer made a lasting impression on you?

Kees van Wijk; he was the HCM Programme Coordinator at the time. I wanted to study the HCM master’s programme in two years, because I was working three days a week in addition to my studies. He persuaded me to do the one-year variant, and I was indeed able to finish it on time. I also remember Kim Putters. He gave me the lowest mark I ever earned in the HCM master’s programme. It was still a passing one, mind you, but I was quite keen to get high marks so I could graduate cum laude. I ended up missing that 8.25 average by a hair. Of course, no one ever looks at those marks again, so it really did not matter, but I did not know that at the time. 

What career path did you take after completing your studies? 

After obtaining my HCM degree, I traded my job as a Wmo Consultant for a job as a Healthcare Procurement Officer at VGZ. I had a special role there, namely managing a subsidy scheme for strengthening primary care. When I had been at VGZ for seven-and-a-half years, the company underwent yet another reorganisation. Our team was reduced from four to two people, but we were expected to do the same amount of work. As a result, I ended up at home sick with a burnout.

In other words, it was time for something new. While on maternity leave for our eldest, I came into contact with a lactation consultant. She inspired me immensely, so I started training as a lactation professional. The theoretical programme takes a year, but since I was not working in maternity care, I also did a bunch of internships and completed the programme in just under two years. 

Now I have my own lactation consultancy practice in Utrecht, San Borstvoedingszorg. Health insurance usually covers only one lactation consultation. This often limits the care you are able to provide. That did not sit well with me, so I started a second business with fellow lactation consultant Anouk Bolhaar: the online platform House of Milk, which members can turn to for answers to all their breastfeeding-related questions. We also share practical videos; facilitate a community where new and expectant mothers can exchange experiences; and organise live Q&As and expert sessions. As you can see, I am back to hands-on practice again, but the knowledge I gained during the HCM master programme still comes in handy!

In conversation with… you? 

Do you have fond memories of your time at SAG/iBMG/ESHPM that you’d like to share with your fellow alumni? If so, please contact us at

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes