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OHIO Chillicothe alumna returns to alma mater to educate future nurses

Sarah Coates, an alumna of Ohio University Chillicothe, has returned to her alma mater as an assistant professor of instruction, where she combines her passions for nursing and teaching. With 14 years of experience as a registered nurse at Adena Health System, Coates brings a wealth of real-world knowledge to her role in the School of Nursing within the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Coates's journey from nursing to teaching began with her roles as a clinical instructor at OHIO Chillicothe and within the hospital system. She is dedicated to expanding the knowledge of her students, encouraging them to find fulfillment in the nursing profession by making a positive impact on their patients' lives through compassion and care.

“I love teaching and helping to expand the knowledge of those around me,” Coates said.

Having graduated with an associate degree in nursing from OHIO Chillicothe in 2012 and completing her RN to BSN program through OHIO Online in 2019 while balancing work and family, Coates understands the challenges students face in pursuing their education while managing other responsibilities. Her diverse experience in nursing, including work in the catheterization laboratory, cardio-pulmonary step-down unit, and infection control, enriches her teaching approach.

Coates fondly remembers her first clinical site and the support she received from her instructors.

"Those lab experiences and those clinical experiences helped me become the nurse that I wanted to be," she said, emphasizing the importance of a solid foundation in nursing education. She said she fell in love with cardiology during her first year of nursing school. 

Reflecting on her own nursing education, Coates credits OHIO Chillicothe for providing her with a strong foundation to excel in her career. She emphasizes the importance of perseverance for students facing challenges, reassuring them that setbacks are part of the journey and should not deter them from pursuing their goals in nursing.

“I've been blessed with the opportunity to touch a lot of lives, save a lot of lives, and that started right here at Ohio University Chillicothe,” Coates said. 

Nursing school can be a challenging time for students, especially when balancing classes and work. Coates encourages students who have set their sights on nursing careers to stick to it. 

“There might be an exam that you don't pass. Try again,” Coates said. “Some of the best nurses I know didn't pass their NCLEX (a standardized test nurses need to pass to gain licensure) the first time but they came back, and their perseverance and their love for what they wanted is what makes them the astounding nurses that they are.”

In her new role, Coates is committed to helping students discover their interests within the nursing profession and adapt to the ever-changing healthcare landscape. She encourages a mindset of continual learning, growth, and openness to new experiences.

 “Always keep your mind open and be willing to learn, willing to grow, and willing to change,” Coates said. “Nursing is amazing. Make sure you love what you do.”

Outside of her professional life, Coates cherishes family time with her husband and two children, sharing a love for activities such as trips to Disney World. Despite facing challenges associated with a neuromuscular disorder, she prioritizes self-care and wellness, underscoring the importance of maintaining health in her personal and professional life.

February 8, 2024
Staff reports