“I think I’ve attended every nursing school in the Lubbock area and graduated from every one of them,” Jeff Watson, DPN, RN, TTUHSC School of Nursing assistant professor said. “I went to vocational nursing school at South Plains College [in Lubbock, Texas] back in the ‘80s and then I moved to Dallas to attend a small bible college, Christ For The Nations Institute. On the day I graduated, I was packed and ready to come back to Lubbock.”
After he returned to Lubbock, Watson worked in an office for a while before deciding to switch paths. He worked at University Medical Center and graduated from the Covenant School of Nursing. He followed that with a BSN from Lubbock Christian University and then earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the TTUHSC School of Nursing.
Watson credits his mother for giving him a passion for nursing.
“My mom was a nursing assistant and would tell these wonderful stories—back when you could tell stories. She didn’t graduate from high school but she was an incredibly dynamic individual—loving, caring—both my parents were. I was fortunate to grow up in that environment because that, plus a few other things, helped me find what I wanted to do. Or nursing found me. I don’t know which but I’m grateful,” Watson said.
The move to academia took longer to find him but Watson’s students and peers have recognized the work he has accomplished. Among his most recent accolades are the Texas Nurses Association District 18 Nurse of the Year 2019, the 2019 Student Government Association (SGA) Outstanding Faculty for MSN Pediatric Primary Care, the SGA Outstanding Faculty for MSN Informatics for 2017 and 2019 and the DNP Excellence in Nursing Award in 2016 and Texas Nurses Association President (2016-2018 and 2018-2020).
Even though most of Watson’s classes are taught online, he still finds a way get to know his students and motivates them to remain focused on completing the program.
“I don’t know that I actually do anything to keep them motivated. I do send them encouraging emails throughout the semester and touch base to make sure they’re doing OK and ask if they have any questions. About midway through the semester for every class, I’ll send an email where I acknowledge that this is where it gets hard, but we’re halfway through. ‘Don’t give up.’ There are challenging assignments and lots of pressure. I ask them to think about that moment at commencement when they will climb those stairs, walk across that platform and shake the dean’s hand. I encourage them not to lose sight of that moment. And then when they walk off that platform, they’re walking toward their future with new knowledge and new ways of thinking and doing things,” Watson said.
“What they’re learning is tough. I get it and I’m here to help and support them.”