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Global Health exchange student Liselotte van Agt: Looking beyond bedside care

Maastricht exchange student Liselotte van Agt

Maastricht exchange student Liselotte van Agt, who is spending the winter term at Mac as part of the Global Health program.


February 21, 2019

Liselotte van Agt always wanted to be a nurse, but during her nursing studies in the Netherlands she became curious about healthcare on a much broader scale. Today, as an MSc Global Health exchange student from Maastricht University, she’s learning to tackle healthcare challenges from a new perspective.

“What I missed in nursing was being able to offer my own creative contributions,” says van Agt. “It came down to the fact that protocols already determined the actions that needed to be taken, which meant that often your own ideas didn’t apply.” She decided she wanted to be part of developing healthcare solutions, not just executing them.

The MSc Global Health program appealed to van Agt because it not only offered her the opportunity to explore healthcare at the macro level, but fostered independent thinking and collaborative learning in transcontinental teams. “We frequently work on group projects where personal input and creativity are encouraged,” she says. “Solutions are not given to you on paper. Instead, you’re challenged to think out-of-the-box and work together to find the right solution. I had the feeling that I could really make a difference in this program.”

Van Agt chose the Globalization and Equity specialization, which brought her from Maastricht to McMaster. “We’re learning practical skills such as how to analyze policies and functions within major organizations and NGOs,” she says. This field of study has sparked her interest in a career in environmental health, and she is considering pursuing an advanced degree in geography or environmental science after graduation. “It would allow me to combine an expertise in environmental conditions, such as land characteristics, with my knowledge of human health to advise countries or regions on policies and programs.”

Since she arrived at McMaster, van Agt has made the most of her time in Canada. “I’ve felt very welcome here,” she says. “Canadians are so nice and helpful, and I’ve been able to visit national parks and other cities near Hamilton. I’ve also met a lot of people from all over the world. There’s a big chance that I’ll ultimately work outside of the Netherlands or even outside Europe, so this networking has been very useful.”

Looking back to the beginning of the MSc Global Health program, van Agt remembers feeling nervous and uncertain. But today she has no regrets about changing the direction of her career. “What I like most about this program is that you get to choose what you want to do and where you want to go,” she says. “All options are open, so you can achieve anything.”