Datum 2022-09-23
Artikeltyp Portrait

Professor's portrait: Petra von Heideken Wågert

Petra von Heideken Wågert, Professor, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Division of Physiotherapy.

Please tell us briefly about your academic career – what decisions have brought you to where you are today?

My first decision was to extend my degree project on the physiotherapist programme, which led to a research assistant position at the Geriatrics department in Umeå. Conveniently, a population-based study, called Umeå 85+, was initiated at the same time, for which they needed a physiotherapist who could assist with the extensive data collection. I quickly accepted this offer, which led me to become a doctoral student in the project and I wrote the first articles about it. When my husband got a job in Eskilstuna, in the middle of my doctoral studies, we moved here and then I heard about the physiotherapist programme that was going to be launched at MDU – which has now been my workplace for 15 years!

I really enjoy working here at MDU, in physiotherapy, and am delighted that I can stay here in a new role. Furthermore, I am glad that I applied for the Director of Research assignment for Health and Welfare in the spring of 2018. This has been a fun and rewarding assignment and a huge challenge which has provided me with fantastic experiences. Recently, it is of course my decision to apply for this professorship, which has been a journey in itself – where I am now at the finish line and can start a new chapter with a different leadership and new challenges that I am really looking forward to!

What is the driving force in your research?

I hope to create a better situation for older people in society. We are moving towards a huge demographic change with an increasing ageing population combined with a fewer number of people of working age. This means that we must find new ways of working with more health-promoting and preventative initiatives as well as innovative and technical solutions that can complement the personal meetings. We can never replace the interpersonal meetings, but we must prioritise who will do what.

Which research domains are particularly important for you?

Well, physiotherapy obviously, with a behavioural medicine approach, and in particular research on health-promoting and preventative efforts. I am also passionate about health and welfare technology, which is a hugely extensive area and involves most research domains at MDU, which is exciting. There is enormous potential to develop, evaluate and implement digital products and to create new ways of working which are adapted to elderly care. Here I wish to play a central role and I can contribute with my in-depth experience.

How do you feel about becoming a Professor given that MDU has recently become an official University?

It’s a fantastic opportunity to get involved and influence MDU's direction and initiatives. To help build up an infrastructure for research, where opportunities for interdisciplinary research, collaboration (internally and externally) and tackling various societal challenges is really inspiring!