Beyond the scientist: Adrie Gerritsen

Adrie Gerritsen.jpg

Where and when were you born?

Oostelbeers (Noord-Brabant), in 1962

Where do you live and with whom?

I live in Goirle with my wife Marianne and Bart our son. Our daughter Lisanne studies and lives in Utrecht.

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

In the agricultural village Oostelbeers only few people went to study at an university. My eldest brother, Toon, was one of the few who did, and therefore he was my role model when I was very young. When I was studying medicine, Willibrord Hoefnagels, geriatrician, was inspiring during my scientific internship.

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

Expectations were high in following my brother, one year, I was not placed in the medicine study,  it looked as if I would follow his steps and I have made the propaedeuse of chemical engineering.  The second year I was able to study medicine in Nijmegen. I have never regretted the choice to change study, medical education did also change me as a person.

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

After the specialization as “verpleeghuisarts”, now known as elderly care physician, I have been medicine trainer and was able to stimulate the medical school graduates to become enthusiastic colleagues. Furthermore I am proud to have been publishing, years ago, in the NTvG with two colleagues about a serious side effect of medication. In those days it was exceptional for not academical “verpleeghuisartsen” to publish at all. 

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

Elderly care is not sexy and negative items are widespread. However, it is an underestimated profession with few proven medical protocols. Our patients are hardly included in medical research. Prevention is not the most important issue when aged 80+, side effects, polypharmacy and quality of life are. Working many years with dementia patients, I would like to increase our understanding of this disease and underline the need of adequate (medical) care and most of all, day care. Furthermore I want to help De Wever, elderly care organization in Tilburg, where I am also head medical service, to make the right choices to improve or to maintain care for nursing home patients. The most urgent goal is to participate in general practices to help general practitioners in the care for elderly patients at home.

For what can we wake you up?

As an elderly care physician it is part of my job. Luckily most shift nights are undisturbed, but when they wake me, I realize that someone is in need and maybe I can offer help. That is enough reason to be woken for, otherwise do not call me.

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

Skating is my hobby in the winter, I am practicing it for many years but every year there are many technical details to improve besides improving condition. During summer I keep up my condition by running several times a week, and by biking to my work in Tilburg.

What is your biggest irritation?

Three or four years changing perspectives of elderly care by penny wise, pound foolish driven governments cutting budgets on one of the cheapest medical facilities. The debate is hardly about another MRI or chemotherapy, heroism has an accepted price, elderly care is too expensive.

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

Barack Obama


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