“I like to consider myself part social worker, part psychologist and mostly a nurse,” Maddie Watson said.
INDIANAPOLIS — National Nurses Week provides a reminder the healthcare heroes aren’t just in our hospitals, but also in our schools.
IU Health nurse Maddie Watson cares for more than 500 students at Greenbriar Elementary School in Indianapolis. She started last January after working nights on the surgical trauma floor at Methodist Hospital.
“I like to consider myself part social worker, part psychologist and mostly a nurse,” Watson said.
Watson sees dozens of students on a typical day. Sometimes it’s an upset stomach or a scraped knee from a fall during recess. Other times, her role is more critical to helping students monitor medications and various health conditions.
“We have children with chronic diseases, tube feedings and pumps. Some have diabetes, so I am giving insulin,” she said. “It is the little things that are important, like the band-aids, but it’s also those big, life-threatening things. The hats that I wear, all of them play a critical role.”
She’s also an advocate for students who are economically disadvantaged. Recently, she helped organize a dental clinic at the school for students. It was free for those with private insurance or Medicaid. Uninsured students were able to receive a grant or could pay a very low base cost.
“For me, that was when I was like ‘this is worth it, having kids get the medical care that they might not get otherwise,’” Watson said.
As a team of one, Watson is very close to her students. Many call her “Nurse Maddie.”
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“I show them that healthcare is really important and that it is a safe place. No questions are silly questions. For me, those relationships are invaluable,” Watson said.
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It’s those relationships, Watson said, that are helping bridge the gap between healthcare and education.
“Nursing is not just a one size fits all. It can be a desk job. It can be inpatient, out-patient, surgical or E.R. It can be whatever you want it to be,” she said.
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