Piloting my own career: Jean Hannan

Jean Hannan ’87, MS ’01, Ph.D. ’10 is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.


When I graduated from high school, my father insisted I become an airline pilot like he was. But growing up I had seen him threatened with unemployment several times, and I knew that was not the life for me. I learned that there was a demand for nursing professionals and so decided to study nursing at FIU, which had – and still does – a very intense program. After earning an undergraduate degree and while working at Jackson Memorial Hospital, I enrolled in FIU’s nurse practitioner program, which back then offered a certificate. Later, while juggling grueling 12-hour shifts as a pediatric NP – carrying patient caseloads just like physicians do – and raising three children, I came back for a master’s and, more recently, a Ph.D. Today I am a professor of nursing at FIU, where I teach and conduct research. My current project is funded by the National Institutes of Health and follows low-income first-time mothers with little or no access to healthcare. My study examines if nurse practitioners’ calling or texting these mothers can improve maternal and infant health while decreasing healthcare costs. As for my father, he passed away recently but not before expressing pride in my having attained a Ph.D. and the title of “Dr. Hannan” that comes along with it. He also said he wished he had supported my decision, years before, to chart my own flight plan. I just said, “Daddy, if you had, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

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