Alumni Portrait: Petra Fischer - The Happiness Promoter

2020-06-25 "People should not only become healthy, but remain healthy in the first place", is the principle of the physiotherapist and health scientist. In 2016, she completed the part-time Master of Public Health at the Professional School and is now coordinator for district health promotion and prevention in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin.

Petra Fischer completed the Master of Public Health at the Professional School. ©privat
Petra Fischer completed the Master of Public Health at the Professional School.

Her children taught Petra Fischer something important: "I have seen how naturally they move, how they learn from failure until they find a solution, until they succeed. I realised how we are shaped, partly restricted and limited by our environment and how this influences our health.” As a physiotherapist she treated people with chronic and sometimes unspecific symptoms. Maintaining health, however, is much more sustainable in Petra Fischer's opinion. Today, this is what she does as coordinator for district health promotion and prevention in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin, where she is setting up the district prevention chain, an integrated municipal strategy for "growing up healthy". In addition, she is district coordinator for the state programme "Setting day care centres in motion - for good healthy day care". Professionally, she is now on the right track: "By working for a public authority, I can effect structural change. Municipal health promotion begins with pregnant women and the strengthening of young families," explains Petra Fischer.

After her training as a physiotherapist and gymnastics teacher, she trained as a systemic consultant, completed a bachelor's degree in physiotherapy and therapy sciences and made contact with the world of health promotion. "However, in order to be able to work more in health-promotion in the future, I needed a master's degree in public health." In her search for an appropriate university, she came across Leuphana Professional School and the part-time Master of Public Health programme: "I was attracted by the family-friendly teaching units on weekends and the dedicated commitment of Prof. Peter Paulus," recalls Petra Fischer. The professor of psychology is head of the Master of Public Health programme. The programme offers academic continuing education that covers all aspects of professional and personal requirements in the field of public health. Of particular interest were the two key topics "Education and Upbringing" and "Work and Organisation", both of which Petra Fischer attended. In addition to the acquisition of comprehensive specialist knowledge in prevention and health promotion, the programme focuses on teaching skills in health management.

The medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky coined the term salutogenesis in the 1980s. According to this concept, health is not considered a permanent state, but a process that results from different aspects and can be changed. "The promotion of mental health is particularly near and dear to me," says Petra Fischer. In her master's thesis, she investigated the connections between "Health promotion in schools by means of promoting happiness". She wants to influence structures in such a way that health is maintained even under great stress. Personal responsibility plays an important role "But the resources must also be available and accessible for everyone," she says. In her studies at the Professional School, she concentrated on early health promotion with the focus "education and upbringing". She was involved, for instance, in the Australian "Mind Matters" programme that Peter Paulus is implementing in Germany. It supports the mental health of pupils at all levels. During her studies at the Professional School, she also became familiar with gamification in connection with health promotion. Playful elements get people moving, motivate them to be active and get involved. Even after finishing her studies Petra Fischer is very interested in new scientific findings and is therefore preparing a doctorate. She would preferably like to write her doctoral thesis with Professor Paulus at Leuphana.

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