During his 11 years as a missionary, Bryan Hansen, RN, often visited long-term care facilities as part of his work. He met a man in his 90s who was terrified of one of the nursing assistants, yet powerless to change his situation. So Hansen started thinking about the experiences of other older adults who didn't have the ability to communicate. What rules were in place, he thought, to make sure they received quality care?
Years later, Hansen worked with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office in Minneapolis. He remembers collecting the body of an older gentleman who had passed away. The man was in his family's care at a reasonably clean house. But when Hansen went to the bedroom, he was horrified. The man was lying on a bare mattress without sheets, and the room was filled with piles of food and junk.
"This was a person who was essentially in his room, forgotten about by the world," Hansen says. "That image is seared into my brain."
From these two men, Hansen learned that he wanted to study forensic nursing. While completing his Bachelor's degree in nursing at Iowa's Morningside College, he began communicating with Daniel J. Sheridan, PhD, RN, FAAN, Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, about the Clinical Nurse Specialist Master's program with a Forensic Nursing Focus.
But Sheridan introduced him to another option: the MSN/PhD program. "That was mind-blowing. I'd never considered that before," Hansen says. "But it has turned out to be absolutely amazing, and by far the best option for me."
After graduation, Hansen, a part-time psychiatric Nurse Clinician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, wants to "straddle the line" between research and direct practice, most likely focusing on vulnerable older adults who are abused or neglected. Now he is taking Master's and PhD coursework in both areas, which he feels is one of the biggest benefits of the MSN/PhD program. "Even though you're doing your Master's," he says, "you're very much a part of the PhD cohort."
Still, completing the PhD program is a time-consuming process. In 2012, Hansen will receive his Master's degree, and he expects to begin his dissertation work within the next two years. "[The program] may seem overwhelming at first because of the size of such an undertaking," he says. "But once you are immersed, it feels like there is all the support in the world to help you succeed. ... It's a great feeling."
Jonas Scholar, 2010-2012
Bryan Hansen wants to “straddle the line” between research and direct practice. Currently a part-time forensic nurse examiner at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, his research focuses on preventing pressure ulcer development among older adults who are vulnerable to neglect. He also hopes to impact U.S. policy development that can improve this population’s quality of life.