Going Dutch: An Interview with Joop Breuer

I have always loved the phrase - "Going Dutch."

Wikipedia defines "Going Dutch" as a phrase the means that each person in a party splits the cost of an activity instead of one person paying for the cost for everyone. Everyone does their part to contribute to the success of the group. Wouldn't the world be better off if everyone went Dutch on things? #deepthoughts

I also love the phrase "Going Dutch" as this year in May, I got the opportunity to visit the Netherlands for a little vacation and blog research. My Emergency Nurse Association (ENA) connections helped me land a dreamy tour of Leiden University Medical Center's (LUMC) emergency department and ICU with one of my favorite international ER nurses, Joop Breuer, a staff nurse and Educator for the LUMC emergency department.

Joop was kind enough to show me around and educate me to the many similarities and differences between emergency nursing in the Netherlands versus the United States. Joop also readily agreed to my requests for an interview for the New Thing Nurse Blog! I am excited to share the following interview with you and think that you will all want to "Go Dutch" by the end of this post. :P


Sarah @ New Thing Nurse (NTN):  I have had the pleasure of knowing you through the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) for some time, but can you introduce yourself to our New Thing Nurse readers? 

Joop Breuer (JB): My name is Joop Breuer, an ER nurse from the Netherlands. I started nursing school way back (for some in the prehistoric years) in 1976 and graduated in 1980.  After that, I did a year military service and after that, started training as an ICU nurse. Worked on different ICU`s for 9 years but after these 9 years, I was kind of “finished” with ICU.

During the summer, I was asked as an ICU nurse to do a 6-weeksrotation in the ER.  They were experiencing staffing shortages. After 2 shifts in the ER, I knew: “THIS IS IT.”  I immediately applied and got hired. I did my CEN and have been working on the ED ever since. And I still Love my job.

I am now working in Leiden in the Netherlands (a beautiful town by the way, birthplace of RembrandTt) at Leiden University Medical Centre, a level 1 trauma centre about 20 miles south of Amsterdam. I am married, no kids.. living just outside Leiden, close to the beach.

NTN:  I love hearing about other nurse's professional journeys. How did you fall into nursing? And what area of nursing did you start in and where do you work now? 

JB: During high school I didn`t know what to do after graduation. My older brother was working as a nurse, and I thought: “Well why not? Why not try nursing?”  And I loved it. Nursing is such a rewarding profession.

NTN: The focus of New Thing Nurse is supporting nurses as they find their "new thing." As an ENA member, you were an early advocate of the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) process and course when it came to the Netherlands for the first time. What was your experience like in helping introduce such a new process to the Netherlands emergency medical community? 

JB: In 1995 TNCC was brought to the Netherlands, by instigation of the Dutch Equivalent of ENA. I was one of the first to take the course (given by British Nurses), and I was stunned by it, how well this program worked. In the Netherlands you cannot apply to become an instructor, you are asked
 and I got the honour of being asked.  I still am an active TNCC instructor, Course Director, and since 2008, responsible for all TNCC matters in my country.

NTN: What helped you motivate you to take on such a large project as your "new thing"? 

JB: I still am convinced TNCC is the best program for nurses around. And I always feel so proud when after a course, candidates say that they really learned something to be used in day to day practice.

NTN: Do you have any tips for anyone out there who might be considering jumping into a "new thing" of their own?

JB: If you start a new thing on your own, be well prepared, read about it, and share your excitement with others.

NTN: I love nursing professional organizations. You are very involved with the Emergency Nursing Association (ENA). What can you tell our readers about ENA, and how it has enhanced your nursing career? What is your current role in ENA? 

JB: ENA is by far the biggest organization for ER nurses worldwide. This is reflected in all ENA has to offer to its members: education, research, grants, etc.  Having been to an ENA conference, I was impressed by its member - their commitment and professionalism.

Over the years, I have become more involved in ENA in different positions and many, many members have become dear personal friends. Being a member of ENA has brought me many good things and being part of such committed group of nurses makes me very proud. 

NTN: As an ER nurse in the Netherlands who is also very familiar with the United States' approach to emergency nursing, what are things that you find similar? What aspects do you find different? 

JB: Similar to the US as in the Netherlands, ER nursing is a strenuous job. But also a job once you are infected with it.. you will love it for the rest of your life. Problems facing ER nurses in both countries are quite similar: staff shortages, boarding patients, increasing age of nursing staff, aggression of patients to name a few.

What is different I think is the working hours - we don`t do 12 hour shifts at our ED. In the ICU, they do. We as ER nurses also don`t have any techs around. We do our own respiratory, circulatory and also plasters etc. We also do not care about insurance in the Netherlands
 everybody gets treated. Our healthcare system is quite different than in the US.

NTN: You have told me that in addition to being a nurse educator at your ER, you still frequently work as a night shift Charge Nurse too. What keeps you at the bedside in addition to your Educator role? 

JB: The combination of charge/stretcherside nurse and nurse educator is very important to me. I couldn`t imagine a job where I wasn`t working “stretcherside”.  It also gives me a lot of valuable input which I use in my educator job.

NTN: Do you have any "new things' on the horizon? New Thing Nurse wants to know! 

JB: I am running (again) in this year’s ENA Board of Directors election. I want to be elected as a member of the Board of Directors of our organization.

Currently I am a member of ENA’s Position Statement Committee. After publishing the position statement on the use of social media by ER nurses, (I was the lead author on that one), I am excited that the joint ENA and the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) position statement on human trafficking is nearly finished. Together with a Forensic Nurse, Diane Daber from IAFN, I am the lead author of this one as well.

NTN: How can our readers find out more about you and your work?

JB: You can find me on Facebook and on LinkedIn.

I also published 2 articles in the Journal of Emergency Nursing (JEN): one in the September 2013 issue called: “Working Together, Training Together,” and one in the July 2015 issue called: “Going Dutch, Emergency Nursing in the Netherlands”

NTN: Do you have any other advice for our New Thing Nurse Blog readers?

JB: Always use your critical thinking skills, stay curious, always ask yourself - “Why?” and I always say to my students: “BE the nurse you would want to take care of your loved ones”


Want to learn more about Joop?

Check Joop out on social media (Facebook & LinkedIn) and his ENA election video on YouTube.

- Sarah @ New Thing Nurse

About the Author - Sarah K. Wells, MSN, RN, CEN, CNL is an educator, speaker, blogger and owner of New Thing Nurse, a professional and academic coaching company for the nursing world. New Thing Nurse is organized to provide support and guidance to aspiring nurses, newly graduated nurses, and veteran RNs looking to make a change in their life.

Whether it’s a new school, new job or new idea,

New Thing Nurse wants to help with your new thing!



Nurse Advocacy: Using Our Voices for Change

‘Tis the Season to Advocate!

Spring is busy for many nursing organizations as their members head to their local, state and national government agencies to advocate for the nursing profession. I personally went to Sacramento, California with the California Emergency Nurses Association (Cal ENA) this month to knock on our state legislatures’ doors so that we could voice our concerns about the evolving face of healthcare and what those implications mean for emergency room nurses and the patients that we serve.

Using Our Voices

Nursing is a hard job that leaves many frustrated and burnt out due to the many working and health system conditions that seem so out of nursing control.  Nurses can sometimes feel like just a small piece of a giant healthcare machine that is about to run off the rails. However by taking part in nurse advocacy events like Cal ENA's Legislative Day in Sacramento, nurses get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with lawmakers who can make a real difference in how our healthcare system works.

How Do I Become a Nurse Advocate?

First, you need to find a cause that you feel passionate about. Whether it is working to decrease violence in the workplace, implementing nurse-patient ratios or expanding nurse practitioners’ scope of practice, pick a topic that gets you EXCITED.  There are multitude of issues that can be supported. Look around. Talk to colleagues. Do some research. Find a cause that speaks to you and gets you fired up.

Next, find a group to advocate with you. Advocacy work can be wildly exciting, but also it can be really hard. You are often in the trenches, knocking on doors, making phone calls, passing out fliers and collecting signatures. It normally takes a very long time to see results. Find a professional or other volunteer group that is working on the same cause as you. These groups help support not only your work, but also help sustain your passion when the going gets tough.

Make some new friends. Frequently organizations that support causes that you are excited about will be filled with like-minded, engaged people. Get to know them! These are people who are supporting the same issues as you. Get their contact info. Make a coffee date. Swap stories. I have made some incredible friends through my work with the Emergency Nurses Association (SHOUTOUT TO MY EASTBAY ENA & CAL ENA FAMILY). You never know who you might meet when working with a new group.

Be an advocate of change. While a lot of advocacy work is small steps to the big goal, know that you are working to make things better. What you say to government representatives at all levels can shape policy and legislation that may have a direct effect on healthcare.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. Nursing is hard.

Nursing is hard. It is so easy to get lost in the minutia of healthcare that nurses forget why we ever got into this crazy career in the first place. I find that advocacy work helps re-ground my nursing perspective and helps me remember that nursing is a powerful and meaningful profession. Nurses are regularly rated the most trusted profession in the United States! We need to use that position to advocate for changes that will improve our working conditions and outcomes for our patients. Being a nurse advocate helps me as a nurse, but also as a person.

Remember: What is good for nurses, is good for everyone.

- Sarah @ New Thing Nurse

Here are just a few nurse organizations who have "Advocacy & Policy" platforms -

American Nurses Association

American Association of Critical Care Nurses

Emergency Nurses Association

American Organization of Nurse Executives

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

World Health Organization - Nursing Now Campaign


About the Author - Sarah K. Wells, MSN, RN, CEN, CNL is an educator, speaker, blogger and owner of New Thing Nurse, a professional and academic coaching company for the nursing world. New Thing Nurse is organized to provide support and guidance to aspiring nurses, newly graduated nurses, and veteran RNs looking to make a change in their life.

Whether it’s a new school, new job or new idea,

New Thing Nurse wants to help with your new thing!