It’s been said that life is a journey, not a destination. As a youngster growing up in Shelbyville, Susan McRoberts was fascinated by history and once dreamed of becoming an archaeologist.
But the path she ultimately traveled has been her true calling. McRoberts became a nurse and forged a career that has spanned more than 37 years at Franciscan Health, the last two decades serving as its chief nursing officer – a position she will retire from in mid-December.
“In many ways, nursing is a lot like archaeology,” she once said. “When you’re treating patients you are looking beyond their immediate health conditions. Each person has a unique story to tell, a different background, and these things help give you a better sense of awareness about them.”
After receiving her undergraduate nursing degree at Indiana University, she went to work as a behavioral health nurse at the former LaRue D. Carter Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis before earning her master’s degree in nursing at Indiana University.
The Greenwood resident joined the former St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers in Beech Grove in 1980. She worked her way through the ranks to direct the hospital’s behavioral health services and quality management departments. In 1997 she was appointed chief nursing officer and vice president, leading a team of 1,500 nurses at hospital campuses in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel.
Under her leadership, Franciscan Health has been the recipient of many awards and accolades for the high quality of clinical services and patient and family engagement.
McRoberts was instrumental in cultivating partnerships with nursing schools in the state, and she served as an adjunct visiting professor in IU’s nursing programs.
The road to nursing most likely was shaped by her mother, the late Wanda Hindman, who served many years as a nurse in Shelbyville Central Schools.
And speaking of roads, McRoberts has spent many hours over the years car-pooling to corporate meetings with Franciscan Health’s vice president of medical affairs.
“We both have come to truly cherish this time together to talk shop, commiserate about our respective trials and, most importantly, to just get to know one another better,” said Dr. Christopher Doehring. “I can honestly say that these road trips will be one of things I will miss most about working with Susan.”
The ever-affable McRoberts believes it’s important to give something back to the community. She has been active in Tri Kappa, a philanthropic sorority.
Perhaps McRoberts’ career and commitment is best summed up by Franciscan Health’s president and chief executive officer.
“Nursing is her calling, and we are honored she chose to spend her career at Franciscan,” said Dr. James Callaghan. “We are grateful for her dedicated service and leadership, the caring heart and compassion she has for patients, their families and staff and all who are served by our hospitals.”
Retirement won’t slow her down. She and her husband, David, a critical care nurse, plan to spend more time traveling and visiting with their three children and grandchildren in Greenwood, Arizona, and Texas. McRoberts will continue to hone her skills in needlework, gardening and compiling family genealogies.
Indeed, life is more about the journey. The voyage Susan McRoberts chartered professionally and personally so many years ago has led to many ports-of-call. And more loom on the horizon for her.