Outstanding faculty: Bethany Hansen, PhD

Bethany Hansen, PhD

Bethany Hansen, PhD

Bethany Hansen, PhD, an assistant professor and associate director in the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute’s Department of Pediatric Feeding, will receive the Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Award during the annual faculty meeting to be held virtually on April 18, beginning at 3 p.m.; details are available on the faculty senate page online.

  • Name: Bethany Hansen, PhD
  • Title: Assistant professor and associate director  
  • Joined UNMC: 2018 
  • Hometown: Sioux Falls, South Dakota 

What are the greatest rewards of mentoring graduate students?  

One of the greatest rewards is witnessing students develop their confidence and their independence and being able to be part of that entire process over the course of their training. Being a trainee takes intention, confidence and patience. It is incredible to see students reach an accomplishment for the first time in their clinical work, research or professional growth. The other greatest reward of mentoring students is that every day I genuinely learn from them just as much, if not more, than they learn from me. They are so important to my growth as not just a clinician, mentor and researcher, but also as a person.       

Describe a moment in your profession when you realized you had chosen the right profession? 

I knew I chose the right profession when during my internship I had the opportunity to celebrate first moments with families. Specifically, what I remember was when a caregiver of a child diagnosed with autism receiving early intervention services heard their child speak their first words or when I watched a caregiver successfully feed their child with a feeding disorder for the very first time. I realized I had an opportunity to make a positive, lifelong impact on children and families. I had outstanding mentors that motivated me and instilled in me the importance of what we do and helped me discover what I was capable of. This perspective has carried into my training approach, and I am truly proud and privileged that I get to be part of the training journey for students.  

What are the biggest challenges you face as a mentor?  

Every student has different needs and expectations for mentorship, and it can take time and effort to develop that relationship and learn how to make the best impact on each student at different points in their training. I’ve learned it’s important to balance providing support, guidance and opportunities for students to be independent and comfortable with learning through their own experiences. This balance is important in allowing students to develop their passions, strengths and professional identity.  

How do you know when your mentoring has made an impact?  

I notice I have made an impact when students learn how to self-reflect on their goals and abilities and this gives them reassurance to set high standards for themselves and others. I also feel I have made an impact when they have the courage and are comfortable to come to me for guidance or initiate difficult conversations. It is rewarding to follow the careers of those students that I have been able to mentor and see them begin to mentor and make an impact on others. 


  1. Emily Brandt says:


  2. Meghan Moore says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your work! Your skills and expertise are truly impressive!

  3. Julie Jordahl says:

    So impressive, Bethany…both your well-deserved personal recognition and also your thoughtful answers to the questions provided. You do have an important impact on your program, your profession, your students, and your students. Congrats to you!

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