Faculty Spotlight

Assistant Professor Diana Hanan '16MSN Believes There’s a Place for Everyone in Nursing

What drew you to pursue a master’s of science in nursing at Simmons?

Photo of Diana Hanan

Simmons holds students to a very high standard. Simmons students do well on board exams and go on to work in good nursing positions, doing important work. When I went to take my boards, and then when I started as a nurse practitioner, I felt prepared. Simmons had trained me well.

There’s a strong sense of community at Simmons. Sometimes, in larger schools, it can be hard to feel that sense of community. As a student and now as a faculty member, it’s that community that I appreciate. It allows students to establish relationships with faculty and for faculty to collaborate and learn from each other.

Why did you come back to teach?

For me, it was primarily the goal of teaching that led me to my PhD. I knew I wanted to work in an academic setting. We have a very diverse group of students coming to Simmons and the nursing field for different reasons. They each bring their own life experience and perspectives, and all of them are motivated and passionate about nursing.

The program is a lot of work and a big commitment, but if you want to become a nurse, the hard work is worth it, and it really pays off. It’s a versatile career — nurses work at schools, hospitals, in public health — there are a lot of possibilities out there and different specialties that suit different personalities. I believe there’s a place for everyone in nursing.

The program is a lot of work and a big commitment, but if you want to become a nurse, the hard work is worth it, and it really pays off.

Tell us about your clinical experience.

Some students are anxious about working with older or terminally ill adults. In clinical practice, they will see many people who are elderly and very sick, and perhaps at the end of their lives. Working with this population can feel difficult and sad, but being present in the lives of these patients and their families at those times is an honor. It is a very personal experience, and a lot of trust is placed in the nurses who offer critical support for that patient and family.

Are you doing any research?

For the past year, I have been working with a group of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on a project to help expand access to virtual health services to individuals living with serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders). Our group, the Community of Practice, includes clinicians from MGH as well as social workers, nurse researchers, and individuals who work in community-based health care settings. We are hoping to improve access to health services, not only to help individuals with serious mental illness remain connected to their providers, but also to facilitate involvement in research.

Individuals with serious mental illness are underrepresented in research and generally have poorer health outcomes, and we want these individuals to benefit from cutting-edge research and treatments. I recently presented some of our work at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) Annual Conference in October 2021.

If you are conscientious and practice what you learned at Simmons, you will be safe and a good beginner.

Any advice for students pursuing a nursing degree?

As a new nurse, you won’t know everything, and that’s okay. You’ll learn a lot along the way. If you are conscientious and practice what you learned at Simmons, you will be safe and a good beginner.

I think that looking for nursing jobs in Boston can be daunting. Many students put pressure on themselves to work at one of the major hospitals, but the competition for those positions can be anxiety-provoking. The truth is, there are many opportunities out there, and you will get valuable work experience wherever you go.

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