Women's History Month: Jan Watkins
A longtime employee of Liberty Hospital, Jan Watkins began her distinguished career in 1985. For 37 years, she worked her way up the ranks of nursing, beginning as a PRN staff nurse, then a physical therapy staff nurse, a nurse manager, an oncology program coordinator, and eventually director and interim chief nursing officer before retiring in early 2022.
After her dedicated service as a nurse, Watkins wanted to continue her work with the hospital in another capacity.
"I love Liberty, and I am very dedicated to the hospital. I am proud of the care we provide and the leadership we have. When the Board chair came open, it was an easy decision," Watkins said.
Nursing was always going to be her path. Beginning at a young age, caring for others has been a priority for Watkins. She graduated from St. Vincent School of Nursing and then went on to Webster University and California College of Health Science for her bachelor's and master's.
"From the time I was a little girl, in that era, you were either a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse. I have always been a caregiver and wanted to help people; there was never a doubt. After all of these years, I have never regretted my decision. I have been retired a year, and I already miss it terribly," Watkins said.
Watkins is hoping to bring her expertise in the nursing field to the Liberty Hospital Board of Trustees when she swears in on April 20th.
"I don’t believe a lot of board members understand how the hospital works from an internal point of view, but I do. I can lend a different perspective than what has been had in the past. Healthcare is totally different. Somebody with my understanding and knowledge about the field from a recent retiree, I think, will be useful," Watkins said.
As Watkins prepares to take on this new role, she is eager to encourage more women to enter the nursing field with the right grit for the job.
"Nursing is hard; it’s a challenging profession. If you don't have the passion for it, it can be hard to stay in. While the pay and time off are good, that won’t fulfill you. You can be skilled, but you also need compassion and the ability to care," Watkins said.
She shares this advice for nurses coming into the profession: "Despite the challenges that nurses can face, they should always be looking for a solution to the issue. Be positive; you have to meet the patient where they are. Check your biased opinions at the door and educate your patient and family to make the best decisions," Watkins said.
Jan Watkins will join Anna Marie Martin as the second woman on the Board of Trustees.