The experiences of KC Chaviano (a student)

Arriving in Amsterdam in August, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my semester of education abroad. Having spent the first two years of my undergraduate studies at Pitzer College, a small liberal arts school in the US with a significant social sciences focus, I had acclimated to a very different kind of learning environment. At Pitzer, the majority of my coursework is interdisciplinary, our classrooms are filled with heated debates and often involve partnerships with local community organizations, and students and faculty are perceived as constantly pushing the envelope of what is pedagogically possible.

So when I learned that I was accepted into the Hacking Healthcare course, I was thrilled to continue with a very experimental way of learning, only now in a foreign context.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the course so far has been just how challenging it is. Our case groups were created with the intention of involving many different academic perspectives and skills, with representation from the fields of psychology, the social sciences, medicine, and architectural design. Additionally, everyone in the course comes from different countries and cultural contexts, hailing from The Netherlands, Taiwan, Canada, The United States, Israel, Sweden, Brazil and Aruba – to name a few! With all these various perspectives and skills, it can be difficult to get on the same page, or to be able to accomplish our checkpoint goals, such as arriving at a problem definition or a design solution. However, I’ve learned that having these various perspectives, while perhaps complicating the design process, greatly enhances findings and outcomes in the end. I’m definitely biased, but I think this kind of work environment, with its international, interdisciplinary, and collaborative focus, produces some of the most interesting and critical work.

It’s also been invaluable to explore and engage with a psychiatric ward as our client for our group. As someone who anticipates entering into the field of clinical psychology professionally, I find this “real world” exposure in an academic context to be very important. It is especially interesting to compare the different challenges the Dutch psychiatric care system faces in contrast to those in the United States. While I might not permanently move to Amsterdam to practice psychology in the future, I know with certainty that I will carry my experiences of being exposed to the Dutch healthcare system with me as I move forward in my academic and professional career.

KC Chaviano

Case: Humanizing hospitalization of people with severe psychiatric problems

This blogpost will show some work in progress for the GGZ inGeest case.

In the Netherlands, approximately 160,000 people are suffering from severe psychiatric problems, varying from severe mood and anxiety to personality disorders. Some of these patients experience such acute crisis, that hospitalization is needed. In the Dutch mental health care system, people in such crises can be involuntarily hospitalized and if considered needed, separated in seclusion cells (“isoleercellen”), until their mental state stabilises.

GGZ inGeest is a specialist mental health care institution cooperating with VU Medical Center, treating a variety of mental health problems offering a range of treatments. GGZ inGeest location Amstelveen houses an adult mental health clinic, offering both outpatient services and day care.

The students are asked to think about how the mental hospital could designed in such a way that it promotes a more humane patient-centered care by using the tools of your own study background.

This is a sketch of their practical plan:

Practical Plan

This is a picture of a typical sleeping room in the GGZ inGeest location Amstelveen.

GGZ InGeest room

Some example questions from the questionnaire that is used:

  1. Where do you spend the most time? ( free time )
  2. When are you there during the day?
  3. Is there someone else in this place?
  4. Why are you in this place?
  5. What do you do in this place?
  6. What do you see in this place?
  7. What do you feel in this place? ( physical )
  8. Could you tell me something more about that place?