Compendium Medicine: a Dutch medical students’ initiative going worldwide

ONLINE POST in ENGLISH, commissioned | AMP Student 2017;9

At first glance, Romee and Veerle appear to be just typical medical students in Amsterdam like thousands of others. But ask any of their colleagues or friends, and they’d tell you that they are anything but that. Days before their Kickstarter campaign goes live, tensions are high  and “compendium” is the word on everyone’s lips. Years of meticulous work, with a team of over 60 medical students and over 40 specialists, will have its fate decided in a period of a month in which Romee and Veerle are seeking €50,000 to fund the English edition of their highly successful Dutch revision books. The English-language books are to be called “Compendium Medicine”.

The Dutch Compendium Medicine books

The Dutch Compendium books came about last September after the two girls, who originally met whilst attending medical school at the VU University in Amsterdam, decided that there had to be a better way of studying for exams than hurriedly flicking through dozens of fat textbooks only to be able to regurgitate a few facts the next day during the exam. They set out to create a comprehensive set of books that clearly and concisely summarizes the learning content during medical school. Not only do the books cover clinical subjects, but also subjects like statistics and health law.  

Written by over 100 professionals from all eight medical faculties in the Netherlands, the Dutch edition of the books have sold over 3,000 copies, representing over 13% of the medical student population of the country. A sizable chunk of the sales have also been to medical and allied health professionals. The huge success of the books has led medical schools in the country to put the books on their recommended reading list for incoming students.

Romee and Veerle, the authors of the Dutch books, attribute their success to the fact that they are the customers of their own product. In fact, they are now in the “master-phase” of their medical course, comparable to the clinical phase in other countries. With regards to the future, Romee intends to specialize in gynecology or internal medicine, while Veerle is considering the latter in addition to psychiatry and neurology, although both state that management is something they would like to continue to do.

In addition to their studies, they still lead a team of over 100 students and professionals to ensure the success of their books. Having worked over 90 hours per week, they manage the entire project from start to finish, and are now responsible for the website, webshop and the marketing and promotions aspect. Not only are they currently working on the English version of the books, but they are also continuously working to improve the Dutch books. In fact, they are currently working on a “pocket edition” of cardiology and vascular medicine, which is due to be released in June this year.

Veerle Smit and Romée Snijders

Already having been a huge success story domestically, the girls are hoping their Kickstarter campaign proves to be similar so they can make a dent internationally too. Despite the books only going on sale in April 2018 for $149, the campaign gives medical students the chance to pre-order them at the much-reduced cost of $98. While they are seeking €50,000 through this campaign, contributions can range anywhere between €1 and upward of €3000. If, and only if, they reach their goal of €50,000 will they continue working on the English-language books. Otherwise, all backers are refunded the entire amount they initially contributed.