Jeroen Hasselaar, PhD, Assistant Professor in Palliative Care, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, concludes our series on this year’s winners of the European Association for Palliative Care Early Researcher Award
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My entry into research has been somewhat unusual. In 1999, I graduated cum laude as a health scientist in Rotterdam, with a thesis on health policy. Soon, I found myself working as a financial controller in the Radboud Medical Center and later on as a project leader in mental health care. But research always held my deep interest. In 2005, after some deliberation, I decided to take steps to apply for a research position in pain and palliative care. My wife fully supported this – and I liked it! And now, some years later, I have received a prize for my research. Not only do I consider this as an acknowledgement of my work in the field, but also as a nice confirmation of my previous steps. Additionally, I have been selected for a research leadership programme at our own university (Galilei).
My strongest advice to other young researchers is:
- never give up your dreams
- be prepared to take some risks for the next steps ahead.
In my PhD thesis, defended in 2010, I focused on medical and ethical aspects of palliative sedation. It was shown that the practice of palliative sedation in the Netherlands improved after the introduction of a national guideline. In my conclusions I argued that sedation, in the context of palliative care, should not only be directed at continuous deep sedation – as is the focus of most of the literature – but that it should include the whole continuum of light, intermittent, continuous, and deep sedation. In addition, I commented that expert consultation for palliative sedation needed to be more widely introduced: not as ‘big brother is watching you’, but as an aid to improve quality of care.
As a consequence, we wanted to look at how palliative care at home could be supported by the use of new communication technologies, such as video consultation. This resulted in a research grant for palliative tele-consultation: a project that aims to integrate the best of home-based palliative care and hospital expertise. This also led to the next research question, namely what do best practices for integrated palliative care look like? This finally resulted in a successful European FP7 grant with a consortium consisting of many outstanding researchers in Europe and the United States, including the World Health Organization and the European Association for Palliative Care. I am delighted to coordinate the Integrated Palliative Care Project (InSup-C)with our team at the center for pain and palliative care in Nijmegen.
Research achievements can only be achieved by good teamwork. Therefore, I would like to thank my ‘early research’ colleagues in Nijmegen with whom I have been working now for more than five years: Kris, Stans, Marieke and Yvonne.
What’s ahead? I must admit that I’d like to be involved in healthcare development, not only in the Netherlands, but also increasingly in a European context. In this regard, a background in health policy helps to frame research questions in a European healthcare context and to build up international research collaborations. Palliative care is an emerging field with large public health interest. At the end, the circle may close but in between, a lot remains to be done!
This article will also be published in the September issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care and is reproduced here with kind permission.
Find out more …
The Early Researcher Award (formerly Young Investigator Award) was created as an annual award by the EAPC in 2009. This award is designed to recognise the work of young (novice) scientists and clinicians in the field of palliative care who have recently made, or are currently making, an outstanding contribution to research. It aims to highlight their personal career development and their potential for the future. Click here to read posts from this year’s prizewinners, Assistant Professor Meera Agar and Dr Barbara Gomes, and former Early Researcher Award prizewinners.
Look out for announcements about the 2014 Early Researcher Award in the autumn. We’ll keep you posted about the award, and when the EAPC Prague Congress presentations will be online, via the EAPC website, Facebook and Twitter @EAPCOnlus