Susan E. Hickman


Professor Susan Hickman (Professor, School of Nursing, Community & Health Systems) is committed to optimizing the quality of life for older adults in life’s final chapter through informed, values-based decision-making and effective communication about their treatment preferences. A primary focus of her research is the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program, which improves the continuity of care by communicating patients’ treatment preferences as actionable medical orders. Findings from her research have been widely disseminated and are used across the country to support programs based on the POLST model.

Hickman co-founded the Indiana Patient Preferences Coalition, a group of individuals and organizational representatives from law, medicine, nursing, senior care, and ethics. The coalition created the Indiana POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment), which is based on the national POLST model. Dr. Hickman provides education and facilitation skills-training for POST to health care providers around the state. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded her a second grant to study the quality of POLST decisions. She also serves as the Palliative Care Core lead on a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services innovations grant where POLST is used to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and improve care in 19 Indianapolis area nursing facilities. Her collaboration with colleagues at IU Health resulted in the launch of the Encompass Initiative, which will provide education to improve primary palliative care throughout the academic health system.

Professor Hickman’s work to improve the quality of life for older adults in life’s final chapter is another example of how IUPUI faculty are TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.

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