DIXFIELD — Ever since she was a student at Oxford High School in the mid-1960s, Martha Watson has worked in one medical field or another.
She’s been a nurse’s aid, a pharmacy assistant, an X-ray technician, certified nurse’s aid teacher, and for the past nearly 20 years, a registered nurse.
The past 15 years, she has been the school nurse for the former SAD 21, then following the merger, for Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10.
“I’d always wanted to be a nurse. My mother was a nurse. She taught me the caring part. Nursing was her calling and my calling,” she said as she prepared to screen a 7th-grade student for vision and hearing in her office at Dirigo Middle School.
Watson, 63, retires from the position she loves at the end of the school year.
Over the years, she has conducted screenings, administered shots, removed ticks, and did whatever needed to be done for every age group from elementary to secondary students, as well as for their teachers.
She plans to continue teaching the part-time adult ed certified nursing assistant course at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, but other than that, she hopes to see her two children and grandchild more often, do a little traveling with her husband, Hal, and hang out at their camp on Worthley Pond more.
Nursing, she said, is a fascinating field.
“There’s always something new, always something to learn, new diseases, rashes, new medications, treatments,” she said.
She’s glad she returned to school to become a nurse.
“It’s been a wonderful career,” she said.
She’ll greatly miss the students and staff, all of whom she called wonderful people.
“It’s time to retire. I’d like to see more young blood come in with new ideas and thoughts,” she said.
During her tenure as a school nurse, she has seen the emphasis on vaccinations fade, then return. Only now, some of those immunizations have been H1N1 or other flu shots.
She’s also seen more students who require wheelchairs, feeding tubes and other medical devices, and well as the incidence of obesity and diabetes increase.
She attributes much of the rise in obesity and diabetes to two parents working and children often grabbing their own food, as well as a decline in physical activity due to computer games.
Watson believes the reality of retirement won’t hit her until school starts in the fall.
“I can still be at the pond, looking down the lake,” she said.