ESHPM Alumnus Pim den Boon nominated for Student of the Year Award

Thanh Nguyen

In 2020, Pim completed his master's degree in Health Economics, Policy & Law at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management. Now, while continuing his medical studies, he has been nominated for the Student of the Year Award because of his commitment to improve conditions for fellow medical students. 

Working 51 hours a week for your internship, two and a half years, compulsory,– all of which virtually unpaid. As the chair of the interest group De Geneeskundestudent, Pim den Boon (24) is committed to establishing an allowance for medical interns. Other key issues in his crosshairs are preventing burnout among junior doctors, fostering a more inclusive programme, and establishing a broader picture of what doctors are and can do. Pim used to teach foreign doctors, refugees and migrants for Stichting GIDS, helping them be better prepared for the examinations for BIG registration. Someone who wrote to nominate Pim as Student of the Year commented on his achievements saying: “This huge commitment deserves a nomination.” The jury agreed.

What motivates you? 

“The future of the entire healthcare system might sound a bit grand, but I can see that there is a tension between the care we provide and the care we should be able to provide. There is a personnel shortage and money is tight. Proper care starts with proper education – and I saw an opportunity to contribute. I enjoy it and, on top of that, I think it’s important to work on issues related to healthcare. How can we make the medical profession more diverse; how can we get fair compensation for medical interns? It’s not always easy, but I like the challenge and I enjoy the collaboration within De Geneeskundestudent.” 

What isn’t always easy? 

“Staying positive. It’s a lot easier to focus on mistakes and problems. Positivity is more appropriate. We’re doing well in the Netherlands – really well. I don’t want to deter anyone from working in healthcare, which is also why I want to show people that the medical profession is broader than they often think. Doctors have a certain image due to TV shows like ER. People imagine us running around the hospital with our pagers, saving lives in the corridors. Half of all doctors work outside of a hospital setting, in very different environments. For example, working on prevention policy is crucial to healthcare.” 

What have you learned from all of this? 

“That something small can be very important.  Take the allowance for medical interns, for example, which is a tiny issue within the context of entire healthcare system. Providing proper training for doctors is essential. We need doctors who can handle stress and who take the time to focus on their patients. How can you learn how to do when you’re already stressed because you don’t know how to make ends meet? Doctors are taught how to care for others, but don’t learn how to care for themselves. We don’t listen to the advice we give others. I think being able to learn how to do that can only be achieved if interns are given the space to do so by giving them compensation. We become good doctors under the right circumstances.” 

How do you feel about your nomination? 

‘I think it’s a tremendous honour and I feel proud, although I was surprised at first. I just do the things I enjoy and believe are important. The fact that students feel supported, well, that’s exactly why I do it.” 

Tell us something about you that nobody knows. 

“I can’t stand the sight of my own blood – I always go down whenever I get blood drawn. I donated blood at the blood bank once and I held on until the bag was full… and then I still passed out.” 

The awards ceremony of the Student of the Year Award took place on 31 May 2023. The winner of the award is Hassnae Boubrik, a student at the School of Medicine, for her efforts as a peer mentor.

More information

This interview was published by the Erasmus Magazine. The original article was published on 11 May 2023.

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