TU will miss longtime School of Nursing Director Susan Gaston

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

For the bulk of her career, Susan Gaston had watched her students go pretty much straight from the classroom and clinicals to treating real people.

But that was before iStan.

Gaston introduced the lifelike computerized patient to The University of Tulsa School of Nursing in 2008. With the ability to simulate various disease symptoms, iStan "gives students the opportunity to learn in a safe environment where they can make mistakes and not hurt anybody," Gaston, a longtime nursing professor and TU School of Nursing director, told the Tulsa World at the time.

Bringing in iStan was typical of Gaston's forward-thinking style, colleagues say. She was always looking at ways her field could be improved by technology. It could even mean a new course dedicated to the subject. Gaston created one that gives TU nursing students the opportunity, through short-term study abroad, to analyze how different countries use computers in nursing and health care.

Susan Kathleen Gaston, who had directed the TU nursing school for 23 years, died Oct. 1, 2013. She was 65. A native of Pittsburg, Kan., Gaston came to TU in 1991 from Ball State University in Indiana.

Since that time, she had been instrumental in the successful development of the School of Nursing, said Gale Sullenberger, dean of TU's Collins College of Business, which includes the nursing school. "Every action she took was designed to move the School of Nursing forward and improve the educational opportunities for nursing students," Sullenberger said. He added that Gaston's leadership, backed by an excellent faculty, helped TU's nursing program grow in reputation and esteem not only within the state's health-care community but beyond it. That included leading the program successfully through three national accreditations. The study-abroad course that Gaston developed on nursing and technology was recognized with the College of Business' Dean's Innovation in Teaching Award in 1999.

A registered nurse, Gaston was a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and the University of California at San Francisco and held a doctorate in education from Kansas State University. She also had taught at Wichita State University, Marymount College of Kansas and Pittsburg State University.

Survivors include her husband of 39 years, Lawrence Gaston; and a brother, Joe Pucci.

Reprinted with permission from the Tulsa World newspaper