Beebe's youngest nurse educator is quite educated herself
At 28 years old, Allison Watson has already accomplished more than many people accomplish in a lifetime. She is a faculty member at the Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.
A few days ago, she earned her doctorate in education from Wilmington University, having already earned her bachelors in nursing, her masters in nursing with a focus on leadership and education, and certifications for both emergency nurse and nurse educator.
“I think I just said to myself, ‘This is my goal,’” Watson said nonchalantly.
The Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach, an organization that works to improve the community through civic work and charitable giving, recently recognized Watson’s achievements and rewarded her with a $5,000 scholarship toward her doctorate degree.
As a child, Watson wanted to be a teacher. But her mother and an aunt were nurses, and as one of the first students of Sussex Academy in Georgetown, she had the opportunity to shadow a nurse practitioner in middle school.
“That really kind of made up my mind,” Watson said.
Watson went to high school at Sussex Tech, where she took neither health nor education classes, deciding instead on communications.
“I decided to do media broadcasting and I’m really glad I did because the communications part of it is really beneficial to me now,” she said.
Her older sister followed in their mother’s footsteps and attended nursing school at Beebe, and after graduating high school, Watson did the same.
“It’s a two year program, with one year of enrollment requirements prior, and you graduate with a diploma in nursing,” she said. “Then we have completion programs with local colleges so you can still get your bachelor’s degree.”
After earning her diploma in 2010, Watson went right to work, and immediately enrolled in online courses to get a bachelors of science in nursing and then her masters.
“I took some time off of school, but then the director of our program for 27 years retired and I was part of the panel to recruit for the new director,” she said. “Everything said ‘masters required, doctorate preferred,’ and that got me thinking that if down the road I have any interest in leadership, this is going to be a requirement.”
Being a veteran of online learning and without children, Watson decided the time was right to obtain her doctorate in 2014. As with the rest of her education, she did it while working full-time.
In 2010, Watson went right to work in the emergency department at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes. Three years later, she was enjoying her job, but still looked through Beebe’s job postings from time to time in case something piqued her interest. One day, something did.
“There was an opening for a part-time clinical instructor at the school of nursing,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d get it. I thought I’d apply and show interest and maybe if I applied again 10 years down the road it would reflect well.”
But Watson did get the job. She started teaching part-time, while working in the emergency department part-time.
“That was really difficult for me, when I was trying to make the jump into education at a young age,” she said. “I was really nervous because a lot of my students are my age or older, so initially it was really intimidating.”
However, Watson flourished in the face of the challenge. The opportunity to become a full-time instructor came in 2014. After some soul-searching, and realizing there likely wouldn’t be a similar opportunity in the near future, Watson took the job she has today. She teaches Nursing 201: Nursing Care of Special Populations and Nursing 202: Advanced Nursing Concepts. Watson also is the school’s admissions chair and attends recruitment events.
“For 201, I take students to the ER, to different floors – pediatrics, mental health, [obstetrics]. They really hone in on their procedural skills, like IVs, Foleys [catheters], that kind of stuff,” Watson said. “I love it because I’m always going somewhere different. We go to Howard T. Ennis School [in Georgetown], where we primarily do tube feeding, and we go to Georgetown Elementary School, where we do a flu clinic.”
For Nursing 202, Watson’s students focus on caring for multiple patients.
“It’s when they really become the nurse. I really like that part of my job, because you get to see all their growth and independence,” she said.
In addition to teaching, Watson works on a per-diem basis for Bayhealth at their Smyrna emergency department.
“It’s nice just to keep my ER skills sharp and see how a different organization does things,” she said.
Watson lives with her husband in Milford. Future plans include having a family. She enjoys supporting her husband’s dirt-track racing hobby and taking out their boat, but nursing remains her biggest passion.
“I always encourage people to get into the field of nursing because there are so many opportunities,” she said. “You can be on front lines in the hospital in an acute care setting in any specialty, in education, marketing, research. There are always going to be jobs in nursing and it’s a rewarding profession.”