One master's degree, many directions: medicine

09 April 2021 |

Two alumni look back on their education and the direction they followed. Even though they started on the same road, it ultimately led to other places. Tom and Marie-Astrid both studied medicine at Ghent University.

Tom Holvoet - gastroenterologist at AZ Nikolaas and UZ Gent

“It has always been my dream to become a doctor, ever since I was a toddler. I never really considered anything else. In secondary school, I was very interested in sciences and the social aspect of the job appealed to me as well. After seven years of medicine, I did two years of general internal medicine. Before specializing further as a gastroenterologist, I did another four years as a doctor. These years of specialization are very instructive, but can also be quite demanding, with 80-hour weeks and night work. You really have to be passionate to fight your way through. But the final job is much more attractive, with more freedom."

"During my training, I already gained experience at the gastroenterology department in Sint-Niklaas and Ghent. I have now been working there for a year as a gastroenterologist. Apart from consultations, I do camera keyhole surgery, and this combination makes my job very varied. As a gastroenterologist, you examine many organs (in addition to the stomach and intestines, the liver and pancreas), so you come into contact with many different diseases. I still draw on my general pathology subjects from the past. With my specialization, I could go on to become an emergency doctor or work in the pharmaceutical industry. Doctors with a scientific background are in great demand there.”

Marie-Astrid Denys - Medical Affairs Manager at Daiichi Sankyo

“It's not that I dreamed of practicing medicine as a child. I didn't know any doctors besides my family doctor. I came from a science focus in secondary school and was also interested in bioengineering, biotechnology, chemistry and physics. In the end, I chose medicine because I didn’t have to make a herbarium in that course (laughs)."

"After seven years of medicine, I started specializing in urology, which I combined with a PhD. But I began to have more and more doubts. Consultations were taking a lot of energy out of me and I had the feeling that I was no longer in control of my own life. I wanted to manage my own schedule again and switched to the pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo. In the medical department, I prepare the launch of new products. I ask experts for advice, coordinate product studies and examine possible collaborations with doctors and professional associations. The variety and working in a team are fantastic. The sector is very innovative, I am constantly learning. The broad medical knowledge from my training now helps me to read up on new areas."

"When you study medicine, everyone assumes that you will become a GP or a specialist, but you can actually choose to change direction at any time. It's important that you do what you enjoy.”

One master's degree, many directions


Three alumni look back at their time in education and the road they eventually chose. In effect, even though they started on the same path, it took them to different places.

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