'What's in the doctor's bag of...'? In this column we take a look inside the doctor's bag and the life of an inspiring VanVeer owner. For this (very first!) edition, we chat with Veerle Smit.
Veerle is not only a doctor, but also a passionate entrepreneur. She developed the popular Compendium medicine book series, but is also a speaker, advisor and founder of the Zorgmakers foundation.
What's in the doctor's bag of... Veerle Smit?
Hi Veerle! Let’s get straight to the point. What's in your VanVeer doctor's bag?
When I started using my VanVeer, I was still working as a doctor. This year I chose to dedicate myself full time to Compendium. This doesn’t mean that I no longer use my VanVeer, on the contrary! My laptop is indispensable in my VanVeer. I also read many books about entrepreneurship and personal development, so my e-reader always goes with me as well.
Besides office bag, I also use my VanVeer as a weekend bag. I don't leave for more than a day without my Mason Pearson hairbrush, Smints, a notebook to write in, Compeed blister plasters, sunglasses (good weather should be enforced in The Netherlands) and a swimsuit, just in case. First I used the matching Zipper Pouch for my stethoscope, but now as a toiletry bag. Beautiful and handy!
Tell me, what does your VanVeer bag look like?
When designing my bag I got help from Vera during a Personal Design Session. We came up with six options, between which I had to decide. But I simply couldn’t! So I posted the different designs on my Instagram Stories with a poll. My current bag came out as the winner, with 106 votes.
I have a Midi with a base in Cognac Vintage, a body in Taupe Distressed, details in Cognac Snake and a Kaki lining. I get compliments on it super often and, according to Vera, this color combination has been sold heartily ever since.
Let's talk about you. You do a lot! What is your motivation?
It might seem that I do many different things, but all the projects are somehow related. It is a mission of mine to improve healthcare. I believe this can be done if we, healthcare professionals, would have a more entrepreneurial mindset. Instead of focusing on what’s not going well, I prefer to focus on solutions. Real change does not come from above, but from the people.
Amazing! How do you tackle such a mission as improving healthcare?
With Compendium we not only make healthcare more clear, but also more attractive to a young audience. This is much needed, because education is medicine is still quite conservative. For example, we are active on TikTok and we’re working to make our books more inclusive.
With Zorgmakers Foundation, we break through the feeling of powerless by showing what solutions do exist already. Often these remain within the walls of a healthcare facility. Such a shame! With the Zorgmakers Foundation, we offer a platform to share knowledge and we give awards to initiatives that improve care. Perhaps you have already seen our 16-meter purple inflatable crocodile somewhere, which represents unnecessary bureaucracy in The Netherlands since it appeared in a commercial spot in the ‘90s.
What do your working days look like?
My working day usually starts with a digital meeting, at 9.22am to be precise. With the team, I discuss the focus for the day in maximum 8 minutes. To bring structure to my week, I work with theme days. For example, I plan all my appointments on Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday and Thursday are my focus days to elaborate on projects and go into more depth, and on Friday I deal with financial and managerial matters.
What Compendium item are you most proud of?
I can't say other than our five-part series! In here you find a summary of all 35 disciplines of medicine. It was quite a drudgery, but every time I go through it I think: ‘Wow, this is really complete’. I am extremely proud that we created these books with the help of more than 250 physicians and students.
What are your plans for the near future?
At Compendium, we recently released a new paperback about radiology and pulmonary medicine. Next year there’s one coming about ‘stomach, bowel and liver' and one about first aid (all in Dutch). Furthermore, we are going international. I can’t wait! Healthcare can be improved worldwide so I don't have to be bored for the time being.
Design the doctor's bag of your dreams
Would you like to design your own doctor's bag like Veerle?