Role model Astrid Bijl

"Appreciate life and take in the wonders of this world, however small".
5 minuten leestijd


“From the day we arrive on the planet, and, blinking, step into the sun, there's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done. "I find the lyrics of Circle of Life very inspiring. It fits perfectly with how I look at the world. It's about appreciating life and taking in the wonders of this world, no matter how small. But in that life, we also have the duty to determine our destination, our path." Meet jack-of-all-trades Astrid Bijl. In addition to her role as head nurse of Cardio Thoracic Surgery, she is project manager of the Innovation Lab, chairperson of the team scan in the TOP-V programme (team development and professionalization of nurses), healthcare project manager at the AWVN employers' organisation and self-employed with her company "In everything I do, one thing is central: How can we make healthcare future-proof? After having a daughter, I have become even more aware that the healthcare system must become sustainable. That's very much what drives me now."


"From my role as head nurse I have developed a model in recent years with which you can organise care processes more effectively and efficiently so that you can manage with thirty percent fewer nurses in a department. I came to that conclusion when I took a close look at the care process in my own department and saw that colleagues were extremely busy with many different tasks. Doctor's visits, sharing medications, doing check-ups, weighing, speaking to relatives - for the four patients they each had under their care, they had to do everything themselves. These tasks were all jumbled up together, causing distractions and errors. What if you were to divide the tasks a little more? What if you were to work more as a team, matching all those tasks, responsibilities and authorities as closely as possible to the talents, ambitions and wishes of your employees? The teams then no longer need to consist of people who can do the same job, but of people who complement each other. We ended up with teams consisting of an intermediate vocational nurse, a higher vocational nurse and a care support worker, a new position that is filled in our department by status holders. This team is now responsible for twelve patients, and in the morning they agree who does what. For example, one team member shares the medication that day, another makes the doctor's visit and the third team member ensures that his or her team members can do these tasks without interruption. By eliminating disruptions and introducing more continuity and flow into the work, our workload is lower and the quality and safety of our patient care has improved. I am now convinced that my model works and I like to think with colleagues about how they can design their care processes more effectively and efficiently so that the work is not only more enjoyable but we can also make care more future-proof together."

Amsterdam UMC aims to be diverse and inclusive. A good example of inclusive collaboration within Amsterdam UMC?

"In my department, there are currently status holders working as care support staff. People who worked as nurses in the country they fled have the right skills, but often not the right papers. As care support workers, they are now getting to know the work culture, their professional Dutch and are being given the opportunity to work on their qualifications and skills. The employees who have been with the organisation for some time find their new colleagues an enrichment for the team. Thanks to the better division of labour and sharp focus, they experience a lower workload and there is room to better tailor the care to patients' needs. Win-win. Status holders who usually have difficulty finding work have a job and the entire organisation benefits from a team with a greater diversity of people and their talents. This diversity on the work floor creates an open culture, where you can wonder and learn from each other. It creates a safe learning climate. Not only for the status holders, but also for students and new employees."

Where are the opportunities for Amsterdam UMC when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

"Diversity and inclusion is not on the agenda because of mercy. It is not a charity. It is not about compassion. Or about quotas. It is about getting the best out of different people so that your organisation benefits. If you want to stay at the top, it is pure necessity. That is what it should be about. That complementarity ensures that together you become more innovative, more creative and more problem-solving. We can really see that in our department. Our innovative capacity is much greater now that we have created a system where we learn from each other. Whereas the work used to be very individualistic, we have now turned it into a team sport. This also fits in with the vision on nursing at Amsterdam UMC, in which we like to make use of diversity and assume that a team will jointly provide the best nursing care. No more positions but roles, creating opportunities for individuals - from status holder to academically educated nurse - to excel and make good use of their talents. Looking at what people can do instead of what they cannot. I am convinced that everyone can make a contribution with his or her qualities.”

Outside of working hours?

"Child and dog in the cargo bike and off we go! At moments like that I have space in my head for new ideas. Once at home, I quickly jot them down on a sheet of paper to work them out later. Thinking and dreaming big, always working on the next idea, that is both my quality and my pitfall. Partly because of Marcel Levi, I try to enjoy the here and now. During a dinner, he once told me sternly: "All right, all those ambitions. But you must also really enjoy the now and the road towards it and not just focus on the end goal.” I get that enjoyment of the now mainly from the little things. Bouncing balls with my daughter, for example, or those first spring blooms in the garden. The Circle of Life sums it up nicely: There's far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found, but the sun rolling high, through the sapphire sky, keeps great and small on the endless round."