Nienke van Pijkeren

(Re)Building Geographies of Care

Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam,

Supervisors: Prof. Roland Bal and Dr. Iris Wallenburg


I hold a Bachelor degree in Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University, followed by a specialization in Human Geography at Utrecht University and Humboldt Universität Berlin. After my bachelor, I obtained a master degree in Organizational Anthropology at VU University Amsterdam, in which I could combine elements of anthropology, human geography and organization science. Since November 2018, I am PhD candidate in Health Care Governance at the Institute of Health Policy & Management.


Regional cooperation, supported by (new) technologies, is raised as a significant solution to future health challenges. Specifically, regions that experience a high demand for complex, long-term care and a shortage of (skilled) health professionals are seeking solutions on regional scale. In this PhD trajectory, I study how the future of healthcare in (mainly non-metropolitan) rural regions is taking place. Therefore, I explore how regions are conceptualized and understood in both theoretical and empirical sense.

Within and between regions, organizations and professionals create innovative care pathways to connect and overcome distances. Innovative care can be found in terms of introducing (new) technologies and new forms of work distribution, such as standardization of systems in order to guide clinical reasoning among health professionals at different sites. This research puts an emphasis on what role such (new) technologies have in rebuilding ‘smart’ and ‘healthy’ regions and how they are conceived and applied by health professionals or their patients. This is done, by doing in-depth ethnographic research with (health) professionals working in nursing homes, home care organizations or hospitals. As a result, this research program will contribute to the growing field of human geography and care, studying the building of innovative care pathways and uncover how regions care and are being cared for in return.