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Posted on: February 2, 2024 | Last Modified on: February 2, 2024

Abilene Nurse Practitioner Hailey Watson Balances Compassionate Care and Family

Hailey Watson and family outdoors

Abilene nurse Practitioner Hailey Watson and her sister, Holley Forester, have at times created a bit of double trouble for those around town. Sometimes, it’s hard to know which twin is which.

Watson works for the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District in the City of Abilene Clinic for Health, aka COACH. Her sister currently works as a nurse practitioner for Hendrick Hospice.

Walnut - Hailey Watson at Coach

“There was a time we were both working at Hendrick North,” Watson recalled. “We worked on different floors in different units, but we occasionally took care of the same patients. I would know if a patient called me ‘Holley’ that she had been their nurse before me.” 

Perhaps weirder than that, in an alternate timeline Watson might have been a sister-in-law, rather than the wife of her husband, Tyler.

Now married for 10 years, the Watsons, both Abilienians, met at Texas A&M through a mutual friend. 

“Even though we were both born and raised in Abilene, we went to different high schools – I went to Wylie, and he went to Cooper,” she said. 

Hailey and Tyler’s paths wouldn’t cross until their sophomore year at A&M in 2010. They began dating in 2011 and got married in 2013. But before all of that, Tyler went on a few dates with Holley about a year before he and Hailey started dating. 

Her sister went on to marry Blake Forester, her husband's best friend and college roommate.

Finding medicine

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Watson got her undergraduate degree from A&M and then received a Master’s Degree in nursing in 2017.  She lived in Austin with her husband for about seven years before moving back to her hometown in 2020.

Watson said she took inspiration for her medical career from her mother’s younger sister, who works as a pharmacist.

“(She) is quite a bit younger than my mom,” Watson said. “I just kind of always followed in her footsteps.”

Her aunt, Julie Gilbert, also went to Texas A&M, and went to work in the Austin area after she graduated, she said.

“We even got to work at the same hospital for a few years while we were there,” Watson said.

Before her role with the City, Watson worked in a family practice clinic in the Austin area. 

But Abilene, inevitably, called her back home.

“All of our family is here, and we've got two little ones,” she said. “So, it's nice to be back (with) family and have some help with the kids.”

Everyday hero 

Watson works at the COACH clinic 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

“We don't do primary care, so it's all urgent care – strep, flu, rashes, stomach bugs, that kind of thing,” she said. “It's quick in and out. Usually, you're able to get in the same day.”

It's a fairly laid-back work environment, she said, but important.

“My favorite thing is working in collaboration with the patients,” she said, empowering them to take ownership of their health.

“I enjoy helping patients make informed decisions, as well as talking through treatment options and choosing an agreed-upon plan of care,” Watson said. “I find that a collaborative effort creates more successful outcomes.”

Hailey Watson's dogs

Family matters

The relatively sane pace of her clinic job is good because her family life is active, with 5-year-old daughter, Ellis, and 2-year-old son, Brazos. Her daughter is involved in gymnastics, she said, a once-per-week commitment.

“We try to keep a healthy balance between work and home life, which is why working for the city is a really good gig,” Watson said.

Tyler Watson works as the production manager for 83 Entertainment and is also from Abilene.

“His world revolves around live entertainment, which is his passion,” she said.

Outside of work, Watson said she spends lots of time chasing her children around. 

“We play outside a lot,” she said. 

The family also has two dogs, a Golden Doodle and a Labradoodle, both of which bring their share of energy. And because the couple’s family is local, Sunday lunches with one side or another, including hanging out with cousins, is common.

Lifetime fun

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While family commitments haven’t left much room for it lately, Watson is a passionate golfer, having played in high school.

You can play golf until you’re 90, as long as the weather’s nice – and even sometimes if it’s not, she said, adding that part of that natural longevity for golfers is due to the sport being easy on the knees and joints.

Her best advice for those taking to the links? Patience – and don’t take it too seriously.

“For most, golf is never a sport to be perfected,” she said. “It is a lifelong sport that should be enjoyed!”

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