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On 30 October 2020, the Chapter of Orders awarded Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Professor Jānis Zaļkalns, Head of Gerontology Clinic of Riga East University Hospital and lecturer at the RSU Faculty of Medicine, Department of Internal Diseases and Department of Family Medicine, with the Cross of Recognition and appointed him an Officer of the Order.

What do you love most about your work?

Work that has been well executed makes me happy. It motivates me to continue in my field.

janis_zalkalns_640x480.jpgPhoto from archive

The state decoration serves as proof that you have contributed to the growth and development of Latvia. What gives you most satisfaction?

My work consists of pedagogy, research and medicine - I cannot highlight any one field as they are interconnected, although the proportion of how much time I spend on each on any given day differs.

What is currently taking up most of your time and attention?

This autumn I enjoyed a very successful cooperation with students from the Social Work and Public Health study programmes - we managed to navigate the complex labyrinth of geriatrics remotely!

At the moment, I am reviewing the monograph Klīniskā hematoloģija (Clinical Hematology) by Sandra Lejniece, a brilliant professor and a full member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. I am also supervising the studies of four PhD students at four foreign universities. One of the doctoral students is nearing the end of his studies and we have written an article together that has been submitted for publication at a scientific medical journal. We just learned that the article is going to be published! My second doctoral student is actively conducting research, and together with the other two doctoral students we are working on research methodology and creating research design.

I also work together with my wonderful colleague, RSU lecturer Daina Zepa who is the Head Physician of the Gerontology Clinic, and with a team of highly qualified and selfless physicians in the running of the clinic.

I am in constant communication with the media, especially the radio stations LR1 and LR4, because their interest in various issues related to gerontology and geriatrics is inexhaustible.

Being an internationally certified higher education quality assurance expert, I received an offer from an independent accreditation and rating agency to lead an international expert commission to evaluate study programmes at the Privolzhsky Research Medical University (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia) on 13 - 15 October as well as the institutional accreditation of study programmes at the Kharkiv National Medical University (Ukraine) on 23 - 25 November. The work was intense, but I am satisfied with the dependable and high-quality expertise.

RSU Research Week is scheduled to take place in spring 2021. Are you going to participate, and if so, how?

I am looking forward to Research Week! It is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the research my peers are conducting as well as to discuss and develop research ideas. 

I really hope that RSU Research Week 2021 takes place in person. No matter how effective remote communication is, it cannot fully replace in-person communication.

What should the people of Latvia take into account if they want to see flourish Latvia as a well-organised and a prosperous country?

Each of us is Latvia. Working selflessly will ensure the country’s prosperity. 

What gives you the strength and energy during difficult times?

I get energy and strength from my work, from getting new ideas and realising them. 

Christmas and the new year are approaching - what are your New Year’s wishes for RSU? 

I wish RSU health, creativity and success! 

The Cross of Recognition is an award for faithful service to Fatherland and outstanding merits in constitutional and public work, culture, science, sports, and education.