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Alumna at Law with nursing roots

Alumna at Law with nursing roots

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Archive Lianne Coenen

Recent UM graduates looking for a job during COVID-19 pandemic

She wrote her final thesis on euthanasia and dementia. In it, she focussed on the Dutch case of a geriatrician who had ended the life of a patient suffering from dementia. The woman had signed a declaration when she was able to give informed consent. Nevertheless, the doctor was charged by the public prosecutor, after the dossier had been presented to various supervisory and assessment bodies. “There was a lot of commotion. The main question was whether the doctor had taken enough care. The latter was the subject of discussion,” 26-year-old Lianne Coenen summarises. The Supreme Court recently gave its verdict: the doctor had not committed an offence.

Impressive route

“That thesis was a nice combination of Health Law and Criminal Law, exactly what I had focused on in my master’s. Besides I was able to draw on my nursing roots.”
Huh, Nursing? Coenen, a recent master’s graduate, has taken an impressive route.  She did Lower Secondary Professional Education as a teenager and years later she finishes at Maastricht University with a degree in the master’s of Forensics, Criminology and Law’.

Nursing

“For three years, I studied nursing at a secondary vocational education level; care and health appealed to me and for years I enthusiastically watched all kinds of hospital series on television, I thought it would be fantastic. Even though I would start at the bottom, I could see myself growing.”
In the work placements – including one in elderly care and another at a centre for chronic organ failure – she was able to see and experience the practical side of nursing. And that was a disappointment. “It was hard work with a lot of stress, colleagues suffered under the pressure of work, which in turn affected their behaviour.” When she quit her work placement in third year, “because I wasn’t treated well,” she gave up. Exit nursing. “I was given a ‘helping care diploma’, level 2. With that you are qualified to care for and support clients.”

Public Prosecutor’s office 

That experience came in handy in her present job at Proteion, a care organisation in Midden- and Noord-Limburg, where she offers assistance to elderly people (“preparing breakfast, doing some household cleaning, playing a game or taking them for a walk, cooking a meal in the evening”). The job is a dire necessity, because jobs in areas where Criminal and Health Law meet, or in the Public Prosecutor’s office (“I may do the training to become prosecutor’s assistant in two years’ time”), are few and far between. “Duties in home care are not very challenging, it has become a routine. I want to get on. Also, I didn’t complete a university study for this.”

Experience

Before she started the master’s of Forensics, Criminology and Law, at the age of 25, she ‘quickly’ completed the last two years of Higher General Secondary Education in one year, the entire Law programme at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, as well as a transition year. Law instead of Health or Nursing. “After completing secondary education, I felt I wouldn’t be happy with a career in care.”

Now it is time to ‘sell herself’. “I have been looking for a while now, but it isn’t easy. I applied to five businesses and was rejected three times. I’m expecting an answer from the other two soon. It is frustrating at times. For example, I applied for a starter position for which no experience was required, but then I wasn’t invited for an interview because of my lack of experience.” Another “really nice vacancy” with the Public Prosecutor, as a jurist in the field of health care, also passed her by. Then there was a legal position with Victim Support, but that job went to someone who already worked there.

Working from home

In answer to the question whether COVID-19 has thwarted her plans, she admits it has. “Most people are working from home. In many places, they are not expected to be back in the offices before next year. I think that this means that you need three to five years of experience. More experienced employees are quicker to catch on to the job at hand.” There is not very much on offer and there is a lot of competition, she says. Coenen is asking acquaintances and friends for help. In addition, many fellow students regularly make appeals on social media. “I considered putting something on LinkedIn, but then I know I will mainly get offers from recruiters who work for agencies. I would rather not work on short-term projects. I would like some permanency for a longer period.”

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