When asked about how she made her career choice, Bev Hansen has a clever response.
“I’m a social worker ‘cause I work at being social,” she says.
Though Bev, oncology/transplant social work manager at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Arizona, really does enjoy socializing and throwing parties and celebrations, her true motivations for pursuing social work run much deeper and are rooted in her faith.
“It was kind of a faith-based thing,” she says. “I wanted to be able to help people who have a difficult time helping themselves: the poor, the underserved,” she says. “In any way I could, I wanted to help others, in any plight they were going through.”
Prior to her social work position at Mayo Clinic, Bev worked with kids just getting involved with gangs in Chicago; as an intake social worker for Child Protective Services; as a pediatric counselor for the pediatric psychiatry unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and then stayed at home full-time with her children for 10 years. She returned to work in an interim role in transplant social work at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Arizona. She fit so well with the team there that she was hired to stay on in transplant social work after her three-month stint.
“Other prior jobs were great, but transplant is definitely my love,” says Bev. “With transplant, there is always a hope.”
Sharon Wickner, the only other transplant social worker when Bev started at the Arizona campus, became one of Bev’s key mentors, particularly for assimilating into the Mayo Clinic culture. Sharon radiated joy to be able to work at Mayo Clinic and love for her patients; Bev found both of these qualities infectious.
Today Bev manages a team of more than 30 inpatient and outpatient social workers, 15 of whom focus on transplantation. “I still find myself heavily involved in transplant, “she says.
As a manager, most of her day is spent in meetings and responding to emails. What she really enjoys the most is time spent with her staff, helping them excel in their roles.
Another facet of her Mayo Clinic work she appreciates is the professional atmosphere. “If you’re hired at Mayo Clinic, you’re excellent at what you do,” she says. “People are very dedicated — you see it all the time.”
Bev also enjoys the new beginning a transplant offers patients. “It’s so much fun to see patients so sick get a new lease on life,” she says.
Within the transplant arena, Bev’s favorite part is donation, indicating her heart is with the donors. In fact, her passion for donation and desire to help others even propelled her to donate her own kidney to her cousin when he reached kidney failure and siblings were unable to donate. Due to an opportunity to participate in a research study on half-matched donation, or donation where only half of the donor and recipient’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matches, the transplant took place in California in 2012.
Even though recovery spanned weeks, Bev feels grateful for the experience. “Being a donor was more of a privilege — it was truly amazing,” she says. “Of course, I’d thought about this and asked myself ‘Would I do this?’
“I thought that if someone I knew needed a donor, I would.”
As a tribute to Bev, when her cousin and his wife later gave birth to twins, the little girl was given the middle name “Beverly.”
Today, Bev says she cannot tell she has only one kidney, and she can downhill ski and keep up with her college-aged boys. The donation experience broadened her appreciation for both transplant patients and their caregivers.
“It’s interesting being on the patient end,” Bev says. “Just a small taste of it made me empathize more with all they go through. It gave me more compassion for our patients and gave me a heart for nurses and all that they do. Definitely, without a doubt, I’d do it again.”
When she’s not at work, Bev enjoys sitting in the backyard with her husband enjoying a glass of wine, going out to coffee with friends and traveling. She also enjoys a good joke, though sometimes she finds herself appreciating it solo.
“My boys give me such a hard time ‘cause of my sense of humor,” she says. “I crack a joke, and I’m the only person laughing. I crack myself up all the time.”
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