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More than 300 mental health nurses attending their national conference in Dunedin this week will get the chance to meet a woman awarded "living legend" status by the American Academy of Nursing.
Dr Shirley Smoyak, a psychiatric nurse who is is also a healthcare sociologist and a professor of public health at Rutgers University, New Jersey, has lectured or been a guest professor in 50 American states and 15 countries.
She has taught a variety of courses over 50 years, including courses on mental health nursing, family dynamics, healthcare administration and qualitative research methods.
Her current research projects involve the criminal and clinical perspectives of stalking and a national analysis of "masters and monitors" of state psychiatric hospitals.
Another international speaker at the Te Ao Maramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses conference is Prof Dawn Freshwater, who holds positions at both the Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom and Peel Health Campus in Western Australia.
She has studied extensively the use of research methods and how research can be applied to evaluate and improve healthcare, particularly in the area of mental health.
The three-day conference begins on Wednesday.
First-day workshops, open to people outside the conference, have proved popular, with one addressing the issues of working with people who have drug and alcohol addictions and mental health problems attracting 85 registrations.
One of the conference organisers, Heather Casey, said another well-supported workshop, with 65 registrations from a variety of organisations, was "Mental Health - Everybody's Business".
It was designed to help educate those from non-mental health services who frequently deal with people who have a mental illness.