News - November 27, 2009

First graduate Public Health and Society

Fieke Franken is the first graduate in the broad-based MSc specialized course Public Health and Society. She wants to join the health information service.

Fieke returned from Australia two weeks before her graduation. After her internship, she travelled about for another three months. She's standing here at the Great Ocean Road.
'This course allows you to find out where your interests lie', says Fieke Franken. You can branch into different directions with Public Health and Society. She finds health information services exciting, while her classmate wants to go into international aid. You could also enter the private sector to improve the health of employees on the grounds of company economics, explains Fieke.
More than five years ago, Fieke and eight others embarked on the then new BSc course on Public Health and Society. 'I wanted to be involved with people and health, but medicine was too technical for me. This course in Wageningen appealed to me because it was on a small scale and allowed free-choice electives.'
Fieke gained much overseas experience during her study. She is just back from Australia where she assisted in research into city development and health at a university. In addition, she studied for two months in Norway. In the Netherlands, she did an internship at the GGD: informing the youth about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 'Sexuality and STD's are still taboo subjects. It's important to speak to young people about these', she feels.
Guinea pigs
Fieke wants to do more in the health information service. During her study, she became interested in people with addictions. 'Drug addicts find themselves on the outskirts of society, but something has caused them to become this way. What are these causes? How can we help them?' she wonders. 'I would like to have a job which combines research and practical work, more than anything else.' However, she may also do a second masters course in psychology in Utrecht or PhD research in Wageningen.
The smallness which played a big role in attracting her to Wageningen is also a feature of the section of Public Health and Society. 'When you walk in, everyone in the chair group knows you. Contacts with the lecturers are quite personal.' Fieke feels that it's special to be the first class of a study course. 'I did sometimes have the idea that we were like guinea pigs. The lecturers were feeling about a little how the subject should be conducted. But there were always proper evaluations.'