Jurgen Damen was a well-known face and a valued lecturer and colleague at Erasmus MC. He completed his studies in Medicine and his general practice training there and had been a member of staff of the department of General Practice since 2013, where he was a lecturer and later also head of student education. “When I think of Jurgen, I think of a lecturer who was extremely passionate about his work, someone who was very dedicated to teaching”, says Maarten Frens, Vice Dean of education. “Jurgen was someone who not only worked with his head, but also with his heart.”
Jurgen enjoyed spending his leisure time with his family and friends, and cycling on his mountain bike or racing bike. “I love everything with two wheels”, he once said. Jurgen Damen was knowledgeable in the field of clinical skills. He was particularly interested in the interaction between physicians and patients and was an example to many in terms of his professionalism and social skills. According to Maarten: “I know Jurgen as someone who always wore a tie. He wore a suit even when he was in a meeting on Teams. He had flair, humor, and great passion for his profession. He was a lecturer who was knowledgeable and put his heart and soul into teaching, in other words, a key figure. Jurgen did everything he could to make our students good physicians. One thing is certain: things will never be the same without Jurgen.”
Jurgen’s drive to provide a high quality of education was also evident in the way he shared knowledge on arthritis. His PhD research was on this condition. Patrick Bindels, head of the department of General Practice says: “Jurgen was a great advocate of spreading knowledge and understanding about arthritis, both to patients and students, and to GPs. He felt that people should know: what kind of condition it is and what they can do about it. This also shows his mentality: you have to help people, you should make knowledge accessible so that people can learn from it. Jurgen felt that he still had a lot to do, which makes it all the harder to accept that his life came to such an abrupt end.
Jurgen was an initiator of many activities, both at Erasmus MC and beyond. In an internal interview for the department of General Practice, he talked about the beauty of communicating knowledge: “The combination of teaching and being a GP gives me so much energy. There are moments of happiness when I experience in working practice what has been explained to our students. I see a medical intern doing something and think: my colleagues have taught them well.”
For now, sorrow and grief prevail. Patrick laments: “People are experiencing great emotions that will resonate for a long time. That is what I see in everyone at the moment and it will take time to get over this feeling.” And in addition to grief and sorrow, we also have a mission to do the right thing. “In this intensely sad situation, Jurgen would definitely have been there for his team. We will need to be there for each other to be able to bear this incredible loss.”