Julia Postmes wins SER Thesis Award 2022


Julia Postmes, Erasmus University Rotterdam (Healthcare management) has won the SER Thesis Award 2022 with her master’s thesis’ Respected doctor in Syria, unemployed refugee in the Netherlands: An analysis of medically-educated Syrian refugees’ integration in the Dutch medical field ‘.

From left to right: Ilse Dijkstra, Sabine Verbunt, jury chairman Ed Nijpels and winner Julia Postmes | Photo: Dirk Hol

When choosing the thesis, it is important that it relates to a current and relevant topic with great relevance to the SER work. The thesis provides a clear overview of the problem of not exploiting the potential of people fleeing to the Netherlands correctly. Julia cites many practical examples. She also provides insight into a larger, broader problem that is not always visible to people who have grown up within a particular system: how difficult it can be for an outsider to integrate due to the inaccessibility of Dutch systems. The jury appreciates that Julia Postmes is aware of both better adaptation and additional career guidance for physicians. She uses relevant literature as a stepping stone. Its main conclusion is plausible and useful for policy makers.

Julia Postmes will receive 2,000 euros and will be allowed to spend a day with the chairman of SER later this year. She can also speak to the council at a public meeting after the summer.

Research and conclusions Postmes

The winning dissertation examined the integration of Syrian doctors into the Dutch health system. Julia Postmes was surprised that seventy percent of Syrians in the Netherlands are dependent on social assistance, while they make up a relatively highly educated refugee group. This is partly due to the process that the refugee doctors have to go through to be allowed to work here. Finding an internship on your own initiative is virtually impossible. Without patient contact, doctor talks and learning Dutch are particularly difficult. In addition, there is no trace of specialists.
Her conclusion: “Offer practical internships before the assessment takes place, and create a special course for specialists. Also involve the doctors themselves. The current procedure is unnecessarily cumbersome. Syrian doctors like to point to Germany, where they can already work under supervision – paid – after passing the language test. The comprehensive medical assessment will come later. “

That two other nominees, Ilse Dijkstra (Maastricht University, European Studies on Society, Science and Technology) and Sabine Verbunt (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Financial Law) receives 500 euros each.

  • Ilse Dijkstra’s thesis is about a long-term society-based approach to reducing obesity among children in low socio-economic neighborhoods. The goal is to use the knowledge and skills of the locals to strengthen their qualities, their position and improve their health. Ilse concludes that this community approach reproduces what she is trying to counter: unhealthy neighborhoods.
  • The Dutch pension system is being reformed. Pensioners will soon have to deal with more risks and greater freedom of choice. Sabine Verbunt’s thesis deals with pension funds’ duty of care towards their participants. There does not yet seem to be clarity on how this will (should) be implemented. Sabine Verbunt answers the research question: what points of attention should pension funds take into account when fulfilling their care obligations in the new pension system?


The jury consists of:

  • Ed Nijpels (Crown Member SER)
  • Tuur Elzinga (Chairman of FNV and Deputy Chairman of SER)
  • Ingrid Thijssen (Chairman VNO-NCW and Vice-Chairman SER)

More than 60 students had signed up to participate in the SER Thesis Prize 2020.
All three nominated theses can be found on SER’s website.

More information

Note to editors
For more information, please contact: Marianne den Boef, t 06 44244817, m.den.boef@ser.nl

Leave a Comment