Clinical Assistant Professor, EdD, RN, CNS
“I have enjoyed 15 wonderful years teaching at the IU School of Nursing in Bloomington (IUSON BL)” says Dr. Sharon Gates, “and the best part of my career is seeing students develop into highly-trained, caring nurses. I am honored to have the opportunity to influence the future of nurses and nursing practice through my work as an IUSON faculty member.”
A native of Indiana, Sharon earned her associate’s degree from Vincennes University, her bachelor’s degree from Purdue, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from IU. Prior to starting her teaching career, Sharon was employed at Bloomington’s Centerstone (formerly the Mental Health Center), where she provided mental health services to clients with addictions and long-term mental health disorders. While completing her master’s and doctorate degrees at IU, she also maintained a clinical practice on the Stress Care Unit at IU Health.
Sharon began her academic career in 1992 at Ivy Tech State College, teaching psychiatric mental health courses to Ivy Tech’s associate degree-seeking nursing students. She joined the faculty of IUSON in 2004.
As both a one-time nursing student and now nursing teacher, Sharon has a unique perspective on how the education of student nurses has changed over time – changes that Sharon feels are definitely for the better.
“When I was in nursing school, students wore white uniforms with caps. I remember that I couldn’t keep my cap on my head and how it would always slide down,” she smiles. “Now, we wear our IU red scrubs, which are so much easier to keep clean!”
“But what I also remember,” she continues, “is that – as students – we feared our instructors. We were often afraid to ask questions because the faculty were to be revered, and questions were not encouraged. That has changed immensely. I really like for my students to ask questions and fully engage in the learning. This helps me to understand the gaps in my students’ learning and makes me a better teacher.”
Sharon found her passion for psychiatric mental health nursing early in her career, when she discovered that mental health symptoms – largely unaddressed by 1980’s healthcare professionals – often interfered with the patient’s ability to understand and cooperate with their medical treatment. Sharon wanted to make a difference in the lives of this vulnerable population, which led to her work with psychiatric patients at Centerstone and at IU Health.