On care, credentialing, and credibility: Meet Alison Hansen

Image supplied by Alison Hansen

Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) are specialist nurses, recognised for their skills, expertise, and experience through the College’s Credential. In this special series, we hear from CMHNs about their love for the profession, and the benefits of being credentialed.

This time, ACMHN Forensic Special Interest Group Chair and Monash University lecturer Alison Hansen tells us about her passion for supporting people’s mental health, the joy of seeing her nursing students grow, and why she’s proud to be credentialed.

Why did you choose to become a mental health nurse and how long have you been working in the profession?

When I started my bachelor of nursing degree, I already knew I wanted to be a mental health nurse. I loved the holistic approach I saw other nurses take, working closely with people and developing strong relationships to support people during their times of need. I saw (and continue to see) mental health nurses having such passion for their role and the people they work with and possess a wide variety of skills to support people’s mental health and support people in their recovery. I have been in the profession now for 12 years and my passion for mental health nursing gets stronger every year.

What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am currently a lecturer at Monash University. I teach mental health nursing, and law and ethics in the Bachelor of Nursing, and teach into the postgraduate mental health nursing stream. I also am the deputy course coordinator for the Bachelor of Nursing. I thoroughly enjoy supporting students to think critically about their practice and challenge pre-existing ideas, and promote mental health in order to break down barriers and support inclusion, in a supportive learning environment. I love seeing students get that ‘light bulb’ moment and move through the program into the nursing workforce.

How did getting credentialed help you in your career?

I was credentialed a while after I commenced my career, and kick myself for not doing it sooner. It has enabled me to be formally recognised as a specialist and expert in mental health nursing. In my current role this is important as it increases my credibility and promotes the importance of mental health nursing. It also shows to students the future career options and specialist recognition for practice.  

What does being credentialed mean to you?

Being credentialed highlights my specialist expertise and passion in the area of mental health nursing. It also allows me to be recognised for the contribution I make to the mental health nursing workforce and the wider community. I wear the Credentialed Mental Health Nurse badge with honor.

What advice would you give to MHNs who are considering getting credentialed? What should they keep in mind?

To anyone considering getting credentialed, you’re well on your way. Talk to others who have, or are going through the process. Document professional development activities and get a good recording system going. Often we already do this as a part of development for the organisation we work for and for our registration, so you’re part way there.

Alison is a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse and lecturer at Monash University, with a background in the area of forensic mental health nursing, specifically working with women in this setting. I am currently enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy (Nursing) exploring the use of seclusion for women in forensic mental health settings. I have taught in and coordinated pre-registration programs, and taught in post-registration nursing programs, with my main teaching focus being mental health, and law and ethics for nurses.

Alison Hansen


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