Prof Andre Knottnerus
The mission of The Netherlands School of Public Health and Care Research concerns: contributing to better health and health care through high quality training of young researchers and multidisciplinary cooperation between excellent research institutes in the field of primary health care, transmural care, public and occupational health and health policy, focused on the development and implementation of new scientific knowledge in these fields.
This mission is shared by the four participating research institutes of CaRe, i.e. CAPHRI (Care And Public Health Research Institute) of Maastricht University, RIHS (Radboud Institute for Health Sciences) of the Radboud university medical centre, APH (Amsterdam Public Health research institute) of the VUmc, AMC, VU and UvA in Amsterdam, and NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research) in Utrecht.
The objectives of CaRe are to establish and guarantee a high quality PhD training programme for researchers, and to foster the development of new scientific knowledge in primary care, transmural care, public and occupational health and health policy.
It is the ambition of CaRe to further develop its work according to its mission statement, taking into account a rapidly changing health care situation, due to demographic developments, societal changes, advancing technology and an increase in chronic diseases and multimorbidity. High quality health care should conform to requirements regarding effectiveness (evidence-based), efficiency, patient centredness, safety, timeliness and equity. The combination of expertise, available at the CaRe partners, and the accessibility to valuable international networks, provides the right basis for realising the mission statement.
The research training of CaRe aims to educate not only junior researchers seeking for a full-time research career, but also those who want to combine research with a health care career. It is the ambition and expectation of the school that the latter category will positively influence the evidence based level of the practice of primary care, transmural care, public and occupational health and health policy.
The aim of CaRe is to foster the education of highly qualified, independent and scientific researchers, with an open mind for collaborative research. PhD candidates are required to make a Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) during the first weeks of their trajectory. PhD students choose CaRe courses that fit their specific educational background and work experience, and which offer the theories and skills needed in their research project. The TSP is approved by the local PhD coordinator or PhD committee in line with quality standards formulated by the research school. It is a tailored and flexible plan that can be adapted during the PhD trajectory in agreement with the supervisors, according to the needs of the PhD student and the skills needed for the project. The supervisors ensure the development of each of their PhD candidates into a well-rounded research professional. Progress of the PhD trajectory is monitored by the PhD committee.
A major task of CaRe is to provide a rich selection of high quality PhD training opportunities (courses, lectures, workshops etc) that cover transferable skills, methodological skills as well as the scientific topics central to CaRe’s mission in health care. CaRe PhD candidates choose from a variety of these courses for their Training and Supervision Plan. Basic courses on methodology and writing skills are part of every TSP. More advanced courses are chosen depending on the specific topic of the PhD student. Each institute is responsible for the organisation of several PhD courses, which are offered via CaRe. PhD candidates have the opportunity to follow PhD courses at their own institute and other institutes. CaRe ensures the quality of the courses.
Lecturers in the PhD courses are well-established researchers who have demonstrated their lecturing skills in several educational programmes. CaRe has an annual Lecturer Award for the best teacher of the year as an incentive and role-model.
CaRe has a PhD Education Committee (PEC) which includes representatives from each of the institutes, generally a senior researcher and a PhD student. They meet four times a year to discuss developments within CaRe and policies regarding PhD students, to evaluate the quality of the CaRe courses currently on offer, and to brainstorm about new courses to be set up in view of the field’s recent developments. Each of the participating institutes also has an internal PhD council which represents the interests of the PhD-students of that institute.
The career prospects for CaRe PhD graduates are good. After their graduation, PhD’s often combine working as professionals in healthcare with further scientific research. In line with the recommendations of the last reaccreditation, CaRe has started monitoring the careers of PhD-graduates. Data show that there is no unemployment amongst CaRe PhD graduates. 74% of all PhD graduates continue working as researchers (often combined with policy, care or teaching) in the academic world, 25% choose other positions, such as policy or care, and of 1% the whereabouts are unknown.
Over the years, since 1995, CaRe has established an efficient and stable organisational structure to support the overall school activities, i.e. reporting on output of research activities, supporting and organising the PhD teaching programme, preparing strategic meetings, regularly evaluating its functioning and performance, facilitating the CaRré newsletter, the development of a website, the Annual CaRe Meeting, financial control, and preparing and organising the directors and board meetings. The research school CaRe has a lean, transparent and flexible structure, complementary to the organisation of the participating institutes. PhD supervision and PhD courses are organised by the participating institutes; for overall coordination and quality assurance, PhD coordinators of the institutes meet regularly in the PhD Education Committee; strategic issues are discussed in the Board of Directors and in the Board of Governors.
Researchschool CaRe is a collaboration of four institutes. The four participating institutes are:
On 1 November, Maastricht University has appointed Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of The BMJ
(formerly the British Medical Journal), as honorary professor on behalf of national research school CaRe (Netherlands School for Public Health and Care Research).