Beyond the scientist: Ria Nijhuis

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Where and when were you born?

In Eindhoven, 28 April 1952.

Where do you live and with whom?

I live in Nijmegen with my husband Louis. I have four children and four grand children: Bianca and Edwin (both movement scientist) are living in Berg en Dal with Finn and Thijmen, Mark and Loes are the innovative owners of Hotel Credible and the Kazerne, and Frouke (neurologist) and Eric from Ghana are living around the corner with Chris, and Maarten (industrial design), Linda (architect) and Tycho are creating and living in Delft.  

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

My role model was Martin Luther King, and I really shared his dreams on peace and equality. I admired his way of non violent acting and passionate way of advocating what needs to be realized during inspiring speeches.  

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

Choosing my way after the Gymnasium I decided not to go for politics. The play around power and money was too challenging for me. So, I choose for healthcare, not medicine, because I really wanted to work with the patient, especially working with children. And that is what I did: working with children and their families for 22 years as pediatric physiotherapist at my own practice. In 1993 I changed career and came to the Radboud. What I try to replicate from my role model is to be the change I want to have by using my passion, inspiration and the power of knowledge.

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

I am proud that I was able to be one of the leaders who pushed the transition from physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to scientific based professions. I am proud on my PhD candidates (10 already finished) who produced papers in high quality journals and wrote excellent theses while mostly working in practice not having the full facilities as present in the academic setting. I am proud that the network of postdocs in allied healthcare is growing, which guarantees a sustainable connection between science and practice. And I am proud on all women managing their PhD trajectories besides becoming a mother.      

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

I have still a lot of dreams and targets and scientific challenges, but at my age my most important achievement is creating career perspectives for the postdocs and PhDs in an inspiring research environment attractive for the next professor. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are promising elements in the realization of the added value of healthy behavior and self-management in chronic diseases. Working together in multidisciplinary networks is what the crew needs.

For what can we wake you up?

A camper trip through Europe

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

My hobby is traveling around with the camper, playing with my grandchildren, go for a walk always wanting to go around the next corner, and playing golf at different courses in Europe, however I am good in traveling, playing and walking, but not in golf: the positive site is that I play without a handicap.

What is your biggest irritation?

Talking about money

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

The refugees, who try to realize their dreams


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