Susan E. Hickman, PhD

Susan E. Hickman, PhD

  • Director and research scientist, IU Center for Aging Research, Regenstrief Institute
  • Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Chair of Aging Research, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Professor, Indiana University School of Nursing
  • Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Co-director, IUPUI Research in Palliative and End-of Life Communicating and Training (RESPECT) Signature Center

Dr. Susan Hickman is a clinical geropsychologist focused on optimizing the quality of life for older adults through improved decision-making and communication about treatment preferences. Much of her work is in advance care planning.

She is nationally recognized for her work to help ensure that patients’ end-of-life treatment preferences are known and honored and is a founding member of the National POLST Paradigm. She has spent nearly two decades studying the model’s effects on end of life care, and her research findings are used across the country to support programs based on the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) model. She also co-chaired the coalition that championed the development of Indiana’s version of the POLST program, called the Indiana POST form (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment), which is now implemented across the state (

Dr. Hickman serves as principal investigator as well as co-investigator on multiple externally funded projects related to advance care planning in the nursing home setting.

“Aging is an inevitable part of life, yet our health care system struggles to provide high quality care for older adults. It is essential we use evidence to guide us in improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare.”