Giving students a voice with Maarten Butink

Maarten Butink, a 21 year-old Health Sciences student who chose to focus on the Policy, Management and Evaluation of Health Care specialisation, sat with us to discuss his position as student assessor. He shared what got him where he is now and what he hopes to accomplish thanks to his new position at the university. Read on to find on more about Maarten!

Interview, photography, and text: Valentin Calomme

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Who is Maarten?

I had the pleasure to meet Maarten on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. When I saw him, I directly understood why he was chosen to be the student assessor for FHML. On time, sharply dressed, and a firm handshake left little doubt in my mind that I was going to have a very interesting conversation with him.

As we started the interview, he told me a bit about himself. Born and raised in Heerlen, he decided to study nursing (HBO) in Den Haag. After a successful year where he earned all of his credits, he decided to return Southwards and study Health Sciences in Maastricht. During the course of the last two years, Maarten became very active. He worked as a student researcher for the Oncology Clinic of the hospital, wrote a few papers for Gezondidee, a healthcare university magazine, of which one was published, and was also involved in student representation as the external commissioner of MSV Santé.

What does a student assessor do?

We then started to talk about the reason I was interviewing him, his role as student assessor. He explained that each year, a student is chosen in order to advise the board of MUMC+ as well as the Board of Directors of FHML. The student is in charge of giving the student body a voice during these meetings, as well as during national meetings of (bio)medical education. I directly thought to myself: “that is no small task”. Maarten confirmed that it was indeed a great honor that came with many responsibilities. As he puts it “You have to know everyone. This is your job. You need to work on all levels of student representation in order to give each student a voice”. Not a small task indeed.

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Maarten then went on to tell me about how grateful he was to study at FHML. He explained that student involvement and representation is really high there through the 4 bachelor and 14 master programmes. This represents a total of around 4500 students! It makes his job not only more manageable but also more enjoyable. He also added that his experience in his study association helped him get prepared for his role.

Why did you want to apply for the position?

“I wanted to do more”. Maarten’s answer was concise and clear. After being involved with MSV Santé, he wanted to expand on what he did before. His passion for policy making in healthcare and his will to give students a voice in university matters were all he needed to start the application process. After motivation letters, interviews, and a long onboarding period, Maarten was finally named student assessor at the beginning of the academic year. Not long after, he was already introduced to our new Rector Magnificus, Rianne Letschert, and they agreed to meet to discuss student matters.

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What do you think about the unique collaboration between AZM and FHML?

As student assessor, Maarten sits next to board of FHML, as well as the board of the academic hospital. He told us about this unique collaboration and what he believes is beneficial for both sides. On one hand, students get to use high-end facilities, real-life cases and have access to a large network of companies that work alongside the hospital. The collaboration with the Brightlands Health Campus would be a good example of this. On the other hand, the hospital has access to many bright minds, conducting research on medical as well as non-medical topics. This collaboration between academia and the healthcare world is beneficial to all, as both sides push each other to become better.

What do you want to accomplish as a student assessor?

When asked about what he wishes to accomplish during the upcoming year, Maarten gave me a very humble answer. He truly hopes that he can stimulate student representation so that there is an even better conversation going on between the students and the staff of the university. He also hopes to improve the way the system works so that it would be easier for everyone’s voice to be heard. He also ambitions to help with placing Maastricht on the map at a national level, in order for the university to be more involved in the discussions regarding education and healthcare.

He showed me the location of the students’ new office, where students will be able to meet their representatives, and anyone would have been able to see how happy he was to see that the university was giving him the opportunity to reach the students in a better way.

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Where do you see yourself in the future?

To conclude the interview, we discussed a lighter topic. Where he sees himself in the future. He mentioned working  in politics in order to be able to have an impact on healthcare on a policy level. Shall it be at the local, provincial or even national level. He said that one of the biggest dreams for a health science student interested in policy would be to become the first minister of health with this kind of background in the history of Dutch politics. However, again, he humbly added that even though he is very ambitious, he did not want to sound presumptuous. He knows how hard he needs to work to accomplish what he aims for. He then concluded with this final quote:

“If I can convince anyone to get the most out of themselves, then I would have made an impact for others. This may be a bit philosophical, but I believe that it would make Maastricht, the Netherlands, Europe and the world better. Have ambitions, participate in (in)formal jobs and be a social one.”

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