General practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists, a dietician and a practice of healthcare psychologists; all these health services are offered at the new Roeterseiland Health Centre, which will open later this year. The Health Centre provides healthcare to students, staff and local residents.
The driving force behind the centre is Peter Vonk, who has been working as a student doctor for 36 years: Sixty per cent of our students study on the Roeterseiland campus, so it’s only logical for us to set up a branch here.’
‘The University of Amsterdam has been providing GP care to students since 1938. Since 1980, the student doctors have been based at the Oude Turfmarkt, which for a long time formed the heart of the university. But now that sixty per cent of our students are studying on the Roeterseiland campus, it was only logical to set up a branch of our practice here. We are deliberately including other disciplines so we can offer a complete range of care and keep the lines between care providers very short.’
The Health Centre will offer students, staff and local residents access to general practitioners (as almost all their clients are students, these GPs are often called ‘student doctors’), physiotherapists, dentists, a dietician and a practice of healthcare psychologists.
‘Many students are suffering from mental health problems, especially in these times of coronavirus,’ says Vonk. ‘You can obviously talk about this with your GP, which in itself can already help a lot. We can also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants, or sleeping pills to relieve symptoms. We also offer an extensive range of eHealth programmes. In addition, the GPs are supported by GP assistants in the field of mental health. These are psychologists who can help with mental health problems.’
If the problems are more complex, the general practitioner or the GP assistant can refer you to one of the healthcare psychologists at the Health Centre. ‘These are psychologists you can turn to with a referral from your GP for psychological complaints that are unrelated to your studies. For study-related complaints (fear of public speaking, putting off writing your thesis, etc.), you can go to the student psychologists. You don’t need a referral from your GP for that.’
Chronic diseases and sexological problems
The general practice also employs a GP assistant in the field of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and COPD, and a GP assistant in the field of sexology. ‘Sex should be fun and enjoyable, but problems often arise in this area. One in three women experience pain during sex. This can sometimes have a physical cause, so it’s important to always see your GP if you experience such complaints, but mental factors are often involved too. The GP assistant for sexology can help you with addressing these problems as well.’
For all health problems, regardless of whether they relate to alcohol or drugs, stress, burnout or sexuality, it is best to tackle problems at the earliest possible stage. ‘Our eHealth programmes, which we want to improve further in the coming period, will help with this. The advantage is that you don’t have to keep going to the doctor to discuss your problems (many people find that very difficult). Instead, you can tackle various problems from home on your own.’
How important is the Health Centre to the university? ‘As the largest university in the Netherlands, the UvA has a duty of care, both to our students and to their parents. The fact that we will soon have all these disciplines under one roof will only serve to further improve the care we provide. In addition, there is a direct link between the Centre and the UvA’s research – for example, it will enable researchers from the UvA PsyPoli to develop new therapies and improve other therapies. It will also be a true academic workplace, which will benefit both the clients of the practice and the university itself.’
The general practitioners, dietician and physiotherapists started on 1 June. The dentist and healthcare psychologists will follow as soon as possible.