Up close and personal during the Participation Podcast

What began as a school assignment evolved into a passionate hobby for Myrthe Gerritse, 21, and Sophie Adam, 23. After earning a diploma in Nursing from The Hague University of Applied Sciences, these two young women are continuing the Participation Podcast, during which guests share their stories and experiences with health issues. ‘’It only takes one person to share his or her story to inspire others to do the same.’’

Alumni Myrthe and Sophie have been working as nurses since their graduation. Sophie has an on-call position and is enrolled in the Health Sciences pre-master programme, while Myrthe works full-time at the HAGA Hospital. The friends also use their knowledge and skills during their health care-related podcast. But how did they come up with the idea?

From writing to talking

Myrthe explains, “The degree programme required that we make a weekly blog about a project. Our project was about the Self-harm Foundation, followed by elderly with dementia. In the blog, we described the progress of our project and how we developed professionally and personally, but we thought that this kind of blog was a bit boring.” Sophie remembers when the idea of the podcast was initially conceived. “Our lecturer, Zsuzsu Tavy, came up with the idea to start a podcast. It started more or less as a joke. When we then had to continue the blog – which we weren’t really all that interested in – we simply asked, ‘Can’t we just make the podcast instead?’” It didn’t take long for them to learn first-hand the difference between writing a blog and making a podcast. “During the podcast, we not only reflected on what we were doing, namely the school assignment, but also ended up having interesting conversations about other things.”

Personal

And that was when the podcast was born – much to the enthusiasm of the lecturers. That enthusiasm was so considerable that, after the students gradated, lecturer Andries Hiskes asked them if they would like to continue the podcast in order to increase the experiential knowledge between patients and care experts. The young women agreed.

During each episode of the podcast, a guest speaker talks about his or her illness, situation, etc. In other words, it is up close and personal. Sophie says, “It can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to talk about things like that. You really have to step outside your comfort zone and be able to say things like ‘I understand that your mother was an alcoholic’. It’s also good to find out beforehand if there are any topics the speaker prefers not to discuss. If a person is mentally ill, for example, he or she may want to talk about the illness, but not how it all began. After all, that can be extremely painful for someone.”

Obviously, the podcast is of interest to all those involved in the field of care, but their ultimate goal is actually for anyone who likes to listen to a warm and personal conversation to tune in to the podcast. Myrthe says, “We want to keep the podcast low-threshold. We try to maintain the perspective of the guest speakers, so the focus is on the personal stories.”

Connectedness

Myrthe and Sophie hope that listeners feel connected to the speakers. “That can mean a great deal for patients or those who have had a life-changing experience. Having the possibility to share those experiences can make all the difference. It only takes one person to take the step to share his or her story to inspire others to do the same,” says Myrthe. They also hope that it will generate a better understanding about the life situations of others. “People sometimes think that a person is disabled, but that person may see things in a totally different way and not feel limited at all.”

Sophie adds, “We try to approach things with a very open mind in the podcast. Tell your story, we’ll listen and maybe ask a few questions. What exactly is your situation? Why do you have a service dog with you? Instead of immediately thinking: ‘This person is blind and unfortunate, so I’ll take over now’, but simply listening to what that person has to say.”

Listen to the first episode of the Participation Podcast on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3KXXiH19C88xU456ZkZtmx?si=BNDcPB3-QB-lIR1_uPt-3A