According to Hanna Mayer she would need to become 150 years old so that she could cover all the research subjects in nursing science she burns for. It is a passion which has been part of her life since she decided as a young woman after her final school exams – against many opinions – to become a graduate nurse. “My roots have always been and still are in the nursing sector. It therefore came naturally to me to promote research work in this field.” Another important milestone when working as nurse educator was her decision to parallelly study special needs and therapeutic education with her intense focus on the subject matter of nursing.
In addition to her free-lance scientific work in this young field of research, it has always been Hanna Mayer’s heartfelt commitment to strengthen nursing science in Austria and make it an academic discipline. It was a key factor in her motivation to apply, as career changer, for the newly established professorship for nursing science at the University of Vienna. As head of the institute at the University of Vienna, she initiated the major research subjects of oncological care, geriatric care with focus on dementia and person-centred care, and carried out numerous research projects. During her management, successful master and doctoral degree programmes well established in nursing science have been developed since 2009.
Different large-scale (long-term) nursing projects in which she took part in Lower Austria finally brought the expert to the Karl Landsteiner Private University. “They were much interested in the subject of person-centred care and nursing and I was given the opportunity to specialise in this field.” In 2021, Hanna Mayer was appointed university professor for nursing science and head of the Nursing Science Division with the focus on person-centred care research at the General Health Studies Department where she works in research and teaching. Her fields of research stretch from gerontologic person-centred care and establishing nursing theories to research methodology and research ethics in nursing science. Together with her team of ambitious nursing scientists, she focuses on implementation and impact research as well as the theoretical and methodological fundamentals and advancements in person-centred care. “In contrast to the international scene, there is not a single research institute in the German-speaking countries which explicitly concentrate on the subject of person-centred care. Here in Krems, we can focus on a very broad field which allows us to influence practical development, position our know-how internationally, advance methodology and build up specialist knowledge.”
Hanna Mayer understands person-centred care as the key to the long-overdue re-humanisation of the health care sector. “One aspect is a person-centred attitude, a structural change and new ambience factors such as designing hospitals in a way that people will perceive themselves as individuals. Another is that special processes are necessary which make the needs of patients the focus of the work in hospitals and when dealing with patients – from intensive care units to emergency rooms, for the nursing staff as well as for relatives.”
As a scientist, the expert would herself call curious, analytical, innovative and sometimes uncomfortable. All properties which help her to make herself and the nursing science heard. “I think that the appreciation that nursing is a separate genuine field of research which requires sound financing of large-scale and long-term research programmes is still missing. And the far-sightedness is missing that it is not sufficient to research on nursing from the viewpoint of other disciplines, but that the fundamentals of nursing science are essential for a correct analysis and assessment of phenomena, or rather to ask the right questions in the first place,” the expert explains.
According to Hanna Mayer, systematic research on important basics of nursing is missing when looking into the near future: “For example basics on the term of nursing care dependency and how need is determined. We need much more research on the development and evaluation of person-centred intervention and programmes. With respect to nursing people with dementia illnesses in particular – an important and big topic of the future – we are missing a lot of basics which we could use together with the practitioners to develop and evaluate effective intervention.” The expert is convinced that person-centred systems are most suitable of tackle many challenges. “These systems provide the basis for innovative concepts to use the potential inherent in nursing in more diversified ways, such as dementia-friendly hospitals, but also beyond like for example in kindergartens and schools.”
Hanna Mayer finds her balance in her different professional roles, in sports when cruising with a motor barge on the Danube and, above all, in theatre. “I am a passionate actor. Being in rehearsals and developing a role is the best for me to repeatedly leave everyday life behind. But I am in the happy situation that my profession truly is my passion – and surely will remain.”
Link: Nursing Science with focus on Person-Centred Care Research