An espresso with... Agnes-Dorothee Greiner


After training as a geriatric nurse, Agnes-Dorothee Greiner studied nursing science and German for secondary school teachingat the University of Bremen from 2004 to 2009. She then worked as a researcher at the IPP, the Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research at the University of Bremen, until 2015. Today, she is head of the Bremer Heimstiftung’s education centre and a member of its five-person management team. The Heimstiftung is a corporate member of the alumni association.

Why did you study at the University of Bremen?

After my Abitur [school leaving exam] in Soltau, I did my certified geriatric nurse training in Bremen. While I was doing that, I found out that you can study nursing science at the University of Bremen and also that the degree programme there has an excellent reputation. That appealed to me so much that I started directly after my training.

So was the study programme as good as you expected it to be?

Absolutely. During my time in the programme, I saw that our lecturers and professors are highly regarded throughout Germany. Overall, the quality of my courses was very good, so all in all it was a really good choice. After that, I worked for five years at the IPP with Prof Darmann-Finck, who is one of the luminaries of nursing science in Germany. During that time I started a doctorate, which I would like to complete next year – although with a full-time position in management, that is quite challenging. As a doctoral student, I am also still enrolled at the University of Bremen.

Which other professors meant the most to you?

Besides Prof Darmann-Finck, it would have to be Professor Stefan Görres, the long-time director of the IPP and dean of the department, and Dr Heiner Friesacher, who made a big impact on me with his theoretical and critical view of nursing in Germany.

What was your experience as a student in the nursing science department?

I was part of the last class to graduate with a Diplom [the German predecessor to bachelor's and master’s degrees]. We had a lot of freedom and the opportunity to drop in on other courses. That was ideal for me, but not everyone handled it that well. Our seminar groups were small. To this day, I can still remember particular seminars and the in-depth, intense discussions we had on a wide range of topics. I still draw on that today.

I always found the atmosphere at the University of Bremen good – not a university for the masses and always with a noticeable spirit of resistance. My feeling is that this has been toned down a bit since the bachelor's and master's degree programmes were introduced.

What advice can you give to today's students?

Don't race through your studies, look around, get involved in something you’re already not familiar with or maybe don't find interesting at first glance. I don't know if or how that works with the way things are set up today. It's also worth looking at names. Interesting professors and lecturers, also guest lecturers, who can share interesting experiences and insights that you can benefit from.

What do you associate with the University of Bremen today? What connects you to it?

The resistance, it's still there. And the [IPP’s] research has a brilliant reputation in the field. I worked in research at the IPP myself, so today I still feel that link to the university. And of course, through my doctorate, I’ve stayed in contact with the faculty and with my doctoral supervisor, Prof Darmann-Finck.

You are a member of the Bremer Heimstiftung’s management team, which is one of the major care providers in the region with around 2,500 employees. The foundation recently became a corporate member of the alumni association. What motivated you to do this?

We have a very direct connection to the university. In our education centre there are many teachers who study or have studied at the University of Bremen. We have a variety of relationships with professors and links to research. Ms Darmann-Finck wrote the Bremen curriculum for the new, generalist nursing training. In addition, we as the Bremer Heimstiftung are involved in various research projects at the University of Bremen. We are also the first point of contact for the university on the subject of nursing care for the elderly.

All this is reflected in the discussion around the establishment of a health campus. We are already very strong in Bremen in the areas of care and health, especially in research, where with the IPP, the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) and SOCIUM, Bremen has facilities that are highly regarded internationally. As the Bremer Heimstiftung, we strongly support this research and of course we also benefit from our close association. It gives us fresh impetus, for example in digitalisation, in pedagogy or in new forms of living.

SAVE THE DATE: Next year we want to have our alumni summer fête on Friday, 1 September 2023, in the Bremer Heimstiftung’s new Stadtleben Ellener Hof, a residential quarter in Bremen developed as a model for socio-ecological living.