She believes that living a life of purpose begins with taking initiative and stepping in when you are required to.
Dr. Jana Aulenkamp believes that living a life of purpose begins with taking initiative and stepping in when you are required to.
Short Bio Dr. Jana Aulenkamp. Licensed physician. Co-Founder. Author. Speaker. Founder and board member of Match4Healthcare.
When Dr. Jana Aulenkamp arrived at our Bissfest office for our interview in May of 2020, she was bold and unabashedly confident in a sharp-shouldered jacket that sat comfortably over a white round-necked t-shirt tucked into a finely tailored blue jeans. Her visit which at the time appeared diligently abrupt has left an indelible impression. We were awe-struck by how engaged she is and at how much she was juggling being a board member of the International Business Senate Young, a founding and former board member of #Gesundheit, and the President of bvmd e.V., (Federal Representation of Medical Students in Germany), respectively. She is arguably one of the most multi-hyphenate and always evolving rising stars in the digital medicine scene today.
And yet, she carries herself with grace, respect, and strength. At the start of the interview, Dr. Aulenkamp designates Bochum as her second home. She explains that Bochum feels like “Heimat” to her even though she does not originally come from the city. She reveals that she feels a certain connection to it and therefore, she shall continue to have strong ties to the place. Home to her is a rather small almost inconsequential place neighboring the more well-known Düsseldorf, called Ratingen. Her idea of home is a somewhat peculiar one as it is grounded in a very specific context: place. She roots the concept of home in a real place and the people who reside in it. That place is a very specific one to her. It is a place she can always go back to.
It is continuous and in some way familiar. It is a place where familial bonds are rooted. She states that she strongly associates home with her mother. Furthermore, she remarks that home is otherwise also a place where she feels relaxed and protected. To her, safety and security are of vital importance to an understanding of home. Dr. Aulenkamp talked about her mother in very loving and endearing terms. She explains that her mother is not simply home to her. She is so much more. Uncompromising and unwavering are the some of words that come to mind when she thinks of her mother.
She underlines her mother’s steadfastness as something that has meant a lot to her throughout her life. She declares she knows wholeheartedly, that her mother will always be honest with her. That, she explains is why her mother is her most trusted confidant. Additionally, she credits her mother with teaching her how to take on the idea of leadership in a serious manner. Some of her earliest memories are of her mother sharing with her the importance of showing up in the world and taking charge in a very hands-on way, because change can only be guaranteed when people motivate themselves to play their part in making it a reality. On a more serious note, she confesses that she was taught to question the status quo and in doing so, challenge herself to be more proactive. Dr. Aulenkamp does not look at dreams in conventional terms. She believes she does not do so because dreams tend to be surreal and out of reach to the people who envisage them.
In an attempt to take her dreams more seriously, she began looking at them as goals that needed to be met and not as unattainable. She stresses that she understood very early on that setting up goals will get her closer to where she wanted to be in life. She recalls being super active in her school days by engaging in the “Schulsanitätsdienst”. She attributes this way of looking at life and proactive nature as the reason why she developed an interest in medicine. She took her mother’s words to heart and made care a cornerstone of her life’s work. Today, she uses her platform and talents to amplify and educate. She engages in intersectional discourses around Women’s health, gay rights to blood donation, artificial intelligence in medicine, digital medicine, etc. She takes action and makes it count. Dr. Aulenkamp’s advocacy work has been very adjacent to her journey towards personal growth and fulfillment of purpose. She talked about her interests as always evolving and continuously shifting and changing.
Her work challenges medical binaries and norms. Her interest in a more cutting-edge approach to medicine, which she describes as an interest in digital medicine sets her apart from most of her peers. She is inspired by people with great ideas and by people who are exemplary in the work they do. Some of those people are people she respects and works with closely. #SheHealth is another initiative she is part of. She explains that the work aims to mobilize and center women in the field of digital medicine around the idea of digitalization of the health care system. Furthermore, she illustrates that in thinking about #Shehealth, she automatically thinks about the power of women and how they organize around each other.
She shared with us that most of her work is focused on future ideas and medical developments. She argues that digital medicine provides so much more scope for the imagination. She defines digital medicine as an amalgamation of many different aspects of medicine. Its understanding involves a kind of digital competence which she reveals includes a deep understanding of how digital infrastructures can be utilized to accelerate medical processes in real-time. She says that digital competence includes apps, information exchange, data management, digital networks, artificial intelligence, etc. As we enter a new era of digital medicine, she shared her views on some of the challenges doctors and patients will have to face as things transition from analog to digital. She names one of the problems specific to Germany as the problem of “Rechtliche und regulatorische Rahmenbedingungen” which she suggests is in direct relation to people’s fears of the transition.
She remarks that the “Ärzteschaft” isn’t very accustomed to the new way of doing things. However, she believes covid is switching things up and forcing them to get familiar with the prospect. As our conversation draws to a close, Dr. Aulenkamp discloses that she is making it a habit to take better care of herself these days. She remarks that because she takes being in service to others so seriously, it can sometimes get in the way of her everyday life. When those moments arise and she needs to slow down, she is thankful she has a partner who is attentive to her needs and one that helps ground her.