There are still a handful of people at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center who were here when a duck pond welcomed patients near the main entrance.
Kelley Watson, RN, BSN, is one of them. A nurse in the Endoscopy Center, she started her career at Roswell Park in June 1990 and has seen the construction of a whole new hospital and the evolution of endoscopy and the expansion of her team.
“It’s incredible what can be done with an endoscope nowadays and how advanced the procedures are and how much more beneficial it is for our patients instead of having to go through a major surgery,” she says.
Watson started in the Gastrointestinal Unit and spent four years there before moving to endoscopy after she had her first child. “She was starting kindergarten and I was working 3 to 11 p.m. I wanted a change because I needed some stability so I could see my daughter, so I applied for the position down in endoscopy and I got it and I haven’t looked back. I came to Roswell Park right out of nursing school, did my clinical rotation here and fell in love with it.”
Watson is very active in the field, serving as the regional president for the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) in addition to several committees within the national organization and recently stepped down as a board member as well.
Her dedication to her work, and to helping her colleagues understand changes in endoscopy practices, is part of why she’s such a strong leader and patient advocate, says Jessica Schultz, RN, who nominated Watson to be Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for November.
Leading by example
“Kelley is vastly knowledgeable in the specialty and is an expert in her field. In past years, she was president of WNY SGNA and hosted conferences along with attending national SGNA conferences. Kelley returns excited with new up-and-coming endoscopy procedure and techniques,” Schultz says. “She would share her newfound knowledge with the nursing staff and physician teams.”
She’s also quick to offer her home phone number to colleagues, ready to offer advice and help at a moment’s notice at any hour of the day. “I think it’s important. I’ve learned a lot from my coworkers over the years, watching them and seeing how they do things has helped me become a better leader,” Watson says. “I want to make sure that our team is prepared, so if there’s something new or something that’s been changing, I’ll work with our manager to make sure our staff is well educated and have the resources they need.”
A comfort to patients and colleagues alike
Watson shares that same attention to detail with her patients, Schultz says. “She takes the extra time to make sure her patients are prepared for each step of their process within the Endoscopy Unit. Kelley is regularly in charge and can be heard on the phone, reviewing extensively the prep instructions with patients. She advocates for patients and knows the scope of practice for endoscopy use. She puts the patients first.”
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She’s also been known to help comfort nervous patients, “just by holding their hand, speaking in their ear and providing them comfort through the procedure,” Schultz adds. “I knew I wanted to be able to do the same thing.”
The patients are the best part of the job for Watson. “I just can’t describe Roswell Park patients. They’re so humble and so appreciative and they really just look to you for advice and help. I’m happy to be a resource for them,” Watson says.
Her colleagues are a close second. “When you work with a great team, it’s the easiest thing to wake up and come to work every day. It makes a huge difference. My coworkers are amongst the best in the institute. Everybody pitches in and helps out and, really, they are the best team. Absolutely.”