Q&A with Kevin E. Hansen, PhD, JD, L.M from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, in Eau Claire, WI.
“…figure out what really interests you and inspires you to be your best – then follow those passions. You will have a satisfying and engaging career, and you will have a greater impact on the world of aging.”
Q: Tell us a little about what you are doing right now?
A: I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in the Health Care Administration program. I teach quality improvement in health care, health care law and policy, and organizational leadership in care settings. Our students work in the field of long-term care and health care upon graduation, and many pursue graduate degrees, too.
Q: Tell us about your most recent activities and accomplishments?
A: I recently submitted two papers to be published and I am working with two students on research related to health care (i.e., hospital readmissions and patient satisfaction, nursing home neglect), that they will present at a professional conference in April.
Q: Have you had an important mentor(s) in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: I have had multiple, wonderful mentors both prior to, during, and after obtaining my PhD in Aging Studies. Many people have so willingly and generously shared their time and expertise, which has helped me hone my research interests and career path, despite unexpected turns in the road at times. I did not think I would ever be in an academic setting, but through the input of those I looked up to, it has been one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made.
Q: What are your motivations (inspirations) for studying aging?
A: I had a very close relationship with my grandmother when I was younger, and that led me to practice as an attorney in the field of elder and disability law. My mother is a social worker who helps ensure older adults in the community and in facility-based settings have the proper care and services to maintain healthy lives, which has also inspired me to pursue a career related to aging and older adults. I enjoy policy making, and I enjoy focusing on policies related to vulnerable adults, the aging disabled, and health care for these individuals. I think there are numerous challenges to consider and overcome in delivering necessary care and services for this population.
Q: Tell us about your involvement in GSA.
A: I have been a member of GSA since 2011. Individuals in my doctoral program were strongly encouraged to join to gain the benefits of networking, resources, and the ability to present research at the annual scientific meeting. Through my membership, I have presented research during paper sessions and symposia, have had the opportunity to meet experts in the field and learn from their research, and have been able to serve on committees for GSA. I am currently a member of the Social Research, Policy, and Practice (SRPP) section.
Q: Is there anything unique about yourself and experiences that you would like to share?
A: I don’t know that many attorneys go back to school and pursue a Ph.D., but that is perhaps unique about me. During the time I practiced law, I also worked with the Minnesota state legislature to pass several bills related to vulnerable adults, persons with disabilities, health care facility regulation, and criminal sanctions for those who committed crimes against vulnerable adults. Policy making has always been an interest in passion of mine, and I’m grateful I get to continue with policy development in my current position.
Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: Always keep an open mind to what the future holds for career potentials and research opportunities, because there could be something out there better than you had previously thought possible. I would also suggest taking time to figure out what really interests you and inspires you to be your best – then follow those passions. You will have a satisfying and engaging career, and you will have a greater impact on the world of aging.