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The Succes Story of Charlotte Verhagen

Charlotte works as a nursing teacher at MBO Utrecht. Every year some of her students take part in the U CREATE-Challenges organised by Fundamentals. During the challenges students of intermediate and higher vocational education and sometimes universities work together in order to solve problems in healthcare.

Fundamentals is one of my main yearly power sources. They are very productive and give me good vibes. It’s really important that intermediate vocational education students develop creative thinking, but in the curriculum there is a lack of focus on this. During the challenge-week everything is allowed. There is a Pippi Longstocking-atmosphere, nothing is strange and there’s always plenty of cola and chips. ‘This was really funny and so different from school!’, my students often exclaim afterwards. In cooperation with Fundamentals I also organise creative events at my school as a teacher.

“Professionals in healthcare often come up with solutions too quickly, without analysing the problem from all angles and perspectives first. Fundaments challenges them to do this by asking all sorts of questions. ‘What is the core?’ ‘Yes, you think this is the solution, but you should test it first’. This method is called Design Thinking and I think this way of thinking is important for everybody.”

We are in urgent need of creative healthcare professionals. They are not afraid to make critical comments and raise questions about daily practices and therefore are capable to come up with improvements. We don’t need robots who just dutifully carry out all the protocols, but healthcare professionals who dare to swim against the tide in order to improve the quality of life for care clients. Healthcare workers who feel proud of their profession and who have the courage to be creative. Healthcare workers who, for example, invent new activities for elderly people living with dementia. Who can discover the possible room for executing their plans and have the nerve to put this on the agenda of their organisation. This way they are able to offer tailor-made care.

Creative thinking is useful in all questions of life, by the way. You become more flexible and capable of surprising yourself. It’s also more fun working as a healthcare professional that way. You need creative thinking to be able to cope with your job. If you don’t see any room for improvements there’s a good chance you will quit your profession after a couple of years. These days many workers actually do quit their job, which is a real problem in healthcare.

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