Featured Scholar


Susan Hickman, IUPUI Translational Scholar

Featured Scholar : Susan Hickman, PhD

Professor, School of Nursing, Community & Health Systems
Senior Affiliate Faculty, IU Health Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics
Affiliate Faculty, IU Center for Aging Research
Associate Member, IU Simon Cancer Center
Co-Director, RESPECT (Research in Palliative and End-of-Life Communication and Training) Signature Center, IUPUI
ude[dot]iupui[at]namkcih


Professor Susan Hickman 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.

Selected Publications in IUPUI ScholarWorks

With over fifteen research works contributed to IUPUI's free, open access repository, Dr. Hickman has made translational research knowledge available to health professionals, researchers, students and patients around the world.

Kim, H., Ersek, M., Bradway, C., & Hickman, S. E. (2015). Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment for nursing home residents with dementia. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7248

Unroe, K. T., Sachs, G. A., Dennis, M. E., Hickman, S. E., Stump, T. E., Tu, W., & Callahan, C. M. (2015). Hospice use among nursing home and non-nursing home patients. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 30(2), 193–198.

Hickman, S. E., Keevern, E., & Hammes, B. J. (2015). Use of the physician orders for life-sustaining treatment program in the clinical setting: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(2), 341–350. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7282

Hickman, S. E., Nelson, C. A., Smith-Howell, E., & Hammes, B. J. (2014). Use of the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Program for Patients Being Discharged from the Hospital to the Nursing Facility. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 17(1), 43–49. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7247

Hickman, S. E., & Wocial, L. D. (2013). Team-based learning and ethics education in nursing. The Journal of Nursing Education, 52(12), 696–700. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7273

Cartwright, J. C., Hickman, S. E., Nelson, C. A., & Knafl, K. A. (2013). Investigators’ Successful Strategies for Working with Institutional Review Boards. Research in Nursing & Health, 36(5), 478–486. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7241

Unroe, K. T., Sachs, G. A., Hickman, S. E., Stump, T. E., Tu, W., & Callahan, C. M. (2013). Hospice Use Among Nursing Home Patients. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 14(4). http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7239

Hickman, S. E., Cartwright, J. C., Nelson, C. A., & Knafl, K. (2012). Compassion and Vigilance: Investigators’ Strategies To Manage Ethical Concerns in Palliative and End-of-Life Research. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 15(8), 880–889. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7238

Hammes, B. J., Rooney, B. L., Gundrum, J. D., Hickman, S. E., & Hager, N. (2012). The POLST program: a retrospective review of the demographics of use and outcomes in one community where advance directives are prevalent. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 15(1), 77–85. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7243

Resnick, H. E., Hickman, S. E., & Foster, G. L. (2011). Advance directives in home health and hospice agencies: United States, 2007. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, 28(7), 467–474. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7281

Hickman, S. E., Nelson, C. A., Perrin, N. A., Moss, A. H., Hammes, B. J., & Tolle, S. W. (2010). A Comparison of Methods to Communicate Treatment Preferences in Nursing Facilities: Traditional Practices versus the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Program. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58(7), 1241–1248. http://hdl.handle.net/1805/7237

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