As a new member attending her first BOV meeting earlier this year, Nancy Watts learned the upcoming Applause 2012 fundraiser needed a leading presenting sponsor. Nancy wanted to help: "I went home and said to my husband, 'Ray, nursing needs the support of medicine for this fundraiser.' "Nancy's husband is Dr. Ray L. Watts, renowned neurologist who is now President of UAB.
"Ray didn't hesitate," said Nancy. He took the lead in soliciting and putting together Applause's $25,000 presenting sponsorship – combining donations from himself and Nancy, UAB Medicine, UAB Hospital, UAB Health System, VIVA Health, and UAHSF (the foundation representing group physician practice at The Kirklin Clinic at UAB/ The Kirklin Clinic at Acton Road).
Asked why he embraced his wife's suggestion, UAB's medical-school dean said, "I believe nursing is a partner of medicine – that it's natural for medicine to support nursing, for nursing to support medicine." He said the presenting sponsorship for the Applause event reflects "the close bond
that physicians and nurses have in providing care for patients and their families." Nancy and Ray Watts have a long marriage and a long track record of working together. For 35 years Nancy has worked as a nurse; for 24 years she has been Dr. Ray Watts' nurse. "I've been my husband's nurse all this time!" said Nancy, a neurological nurse specializing in movement disorders.
Formerly from Boston, Nancy began her neurology/ neurosurgery nursing career at Massachusetts General Hospital. There she met neurology resident Ray, on his way to becoming a specialist in movement disorders, especially Parkinson's disease. "Together Ray and I have cared for some of the same patients for years," said Nancy. "Some patients we saw during our 17 years in Atlanta (at Emory University) now come to us at UAB. Ray and I feel close to our patients, have the same mutual goals for them."
The Watts family includes, as Nancy describes, "five wonderful children." Nancy believes the family has benefited from the Ray/Nancy working partnership. "I think it has been lovely for our children to see Ray and me work hand in hand."
Nancy has been an advocate for patient/family support. In Atlanta, she was coordinator of the American Parkinson's Disease Association Information Referral Center of Georgia.
"When our children were growing up and Ray and I were participating in patient/family support-group meetings, if we couldn't get a babysitter we took the kids with us," said Nancy. "It was a real family affair – the patients' families, and our family. At one meeting, our two-year-old daughter wanted her father and walked to the podium where Ray was speaking, holding her arms up to him. Ray scooped her up and held her while he finished his speech."
Busy with family and nursing, Nancy hasn't been involved in community-board service. She's glad to make an exception for the BOV: "This board has a great group of people; and I admire Dean Doreen Harper, who I believe is 'a mover and shaker.' "