Role model Paul Wynandts

“Perhaps applying anonymously will also ensure that the workplace becomes a better reflection of society.”
5 minuten leestijd


“I grew up as an archetypal Dutch farm boy.” Meet Paul, an anesthesiologist-intensivist, hospitality entrepreneur and musician. A real jack-of-all-trades. He has a healthy dose of work ethic. All acquired on the farmland in Groningen.
When the Sri Lankan-born Paul was three months old, he was adopted by a Dutch family and moved to Boerakker. “Out of school your overalls and clogs on and working at the farmer's down the road, from childhood I know what work is. Milking cows, riding the tractor, a great time!” So it took some getting used to when his father, a biologist, got a new job and he moved to Leeuwarden as a teenager. “But I got used to city life fast fortunately. By now I am a real city person.” After high school, he studied Medicine in Antwerp for a year. “Because drawn out in the Netherlands. The following year I managed to secure a place at the UvA's medical school and since then Amsterdam has been my home base.” During his studies, he also worked a lot in the hospitality industry. Among others, at the Jordanian café de Blaffende Vis, known among Amsterdammers for the Koningsdag installations. “Learning to cook a little under the supervision of real cooks. What a beautiful profession.” After specializing in Anesthesia and training as an intensivist, Paul hit the pause button for a while and traveled around Australia and New Zealand by camper van for six months with his wife and sons ages two and four. “One of the most valuable periods of my life. You can keep going on and on all the time, but by looking at your life from a distance, not letting yourself be led by the delusion of the day for a while, you actually get a bit more grip on your life again.” Once back in Amsterdam, he went to work at UMC Utrecht and made another trip to the Sint Vincentius Hospital in Paramaribo, Suriname. Because he does not shy away from adventure. He has now been working at Amsterdam UMC for five years, as an anesthesiologist-intensivist.


“Within Amsterdam UMC, I work in two specialties: anesthesiology and intensive care. With cardiothoracic surgery - disorders of and in the heart, lungs, major blood vessels in the chest cavity and chest wall - and ECMO (Extra Corporal Membrane Oxygenation, ed.) as my special areas of interest. My job as an anesthesiologist is to guide patients through the procedure as comfortably and safely as possible. As an intensivist, I treat patients who are seriously ill or who need extra attention and care, such as after surgery care
The work as an anesthesiologist is characterized by short patient contacts at a very critical time for the patient, just before surgery. Trying to put someone at ease in a very short time is a nice challenge. In Intensive Care, on the other hand, you often build a longer and more intensive contact with patient and family, because the care in this department is often very intensive and involves multiple medical procedures.

I am also part of the ECMO team, the multidisciplinary team around the ECMO, the device that temporarily takes over the functions of the heart and/or lungs in case of acute malfunctioning. Think of patients who have to be treated urgently or they will die. For example, after a very large heart attack, a pulmonary embolism or after very complex heart surgery. The treatment is an example of high-complex care where there is intensive collaboration between departments such as Intensive Care, Cardiology, Perfusion, Pulmonary Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery. As recently as 2019, the ECMO team won the Profile Award because so many disciplines are involved, yet we operate as one team. Recognition for a fine club of colleagues.”

A packed agenda, you might say. Yet Paul was also the proud co-owner of bistro Dok du Nord until the end of 2021. “A nice place on the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord, my own little neighborhood, where I worked several evenings a week, sometimes after my shifts at Amsterdam UMC, serving or cooking. Unfortunately, the restaurant was no match for the pandemic. In December 2021, we had to close the doors.”

Most proud?

“The common thread in all my work? Teamwork. Whether I'm in the OR or working in a restaurant, I get energy from keeping people excited and working together to get something done. I lost my restaurant because of the pandemic, but at the same time I experienced more than ever what it is like to work together. The ICU was the front line of the pandemic. Pretty tough, but together we could really make a difference in this crisis. This cooperation was not without its problems, because there was so much pressure on everything we did. And everyone was tired and also a little anxious perhaps. But that common goal, nevertheless, also led to connection again between doctors, nurses but also other willing helpers from all over the house. A bizarre time. That I was able to be a part of that, that is surely what I am most proud of.”

Amsterdam UMC goes for diverse and inclusive. Where are opportunities?

“My kids think Gay Pride is just weird. Homosexuality is just a normal thing, isn't it? So why is so much emphasis placed on it? They find it incompatible. That's what you want to achieve with a concept like diversity. Its normalization. That diversity is no longer about minorities being the exception, because there is no longer a dominant white culture. But to break through that, you will first have to pay more attention to ethnic diversity. For example through personnel policy that focuses on coloring the organization, so that we learn to look past the ethnic lens. Think of applying anonymously. Something they have been doing at Google for quite some time. Discrimination in the labor market towards people with a migrant background often happens unconsciously. This is how you can rule it out. Perhaps applying anonymously also ensures that the workplace becomes a better reflection of society. In any case, as an organization you indicate that you do not look at origin but at qualities. I think that's a great message.”

Outside of work hours?

“I love cooking, for example with my wife and children. But I also like to go sailing with friends. Real relaxation I find in making music; Creativity and interaction through intuition. Even outside of work hours, I like activities where everyone has a task and everything is about cooperation. Teamwork I believe is reflected in everything I do anyway.”

If you have any questions for Paul or would like to learn more about diversity & inclusion within Amsterdam UMC, please email

Text: Sophie Verschoor