Care For Mothers: This Is Her Life

There’s one thing everyone should know about Susie Newkirk. Her given name is “Donna Sue” but since the day she was born, she’s been known as “Susie.”

It suits her just fine. She sees it as a combination of both of her parents.

“My mom’s name was Donetta Gulley. Dad wanted to name me Donetta, so this was the compromise,” said Newkirk. Her father Charlie Gulley passed in 1976 and her mother passed in 2009. 

Their relationship taught her a lot about being a caregiver, and helped her land where she is today – working as the administrator for six IU Health Physician sites throughout the city. As a licensed nurse practitioner, her focus is the care of expectant mothers and their newborns.

Newkirk, the youngest of three, was born on her father’s 52nd birthday. Her mother was 38.

“He was sick all my life – had seven heart attacks, the first one when he was 21. I watched my mom care for him. Mom rarely left him,” said Newkirk, who is 54 and has been married to Max Newkirk for the past 30 years. They have two children and one grandchild.

It was on a day that Newkirk’s mom stepped out to refill her husband’s medicine, that Newkirk witnessed her father’s passing.

“I was home alone with him. It was seven days after my 12th birthday and I found him, another heart attack. I would definitely say it influenced my career path. My mom wasn’t a nurse but it was her nature to take good care of him,” said Newkirk, who graduated from Warren Central and began working toward her nursing degree right out of high school.  She’s worked in women’s health most of her career – primarily with expectant and new moms.

“I like that I have variety in my job,” said Newkirk. “Because I don’t come to the same place every day I get to interact with so many different people and personalities and I enjoy the great care the physicians give to our patients. Being a nurse has sensitized me to the needs of different patients.”

She’s witnessed 15-year-olds with no transportation, who have walked to their prenatal appointments, and grieving moms who have lost their babies late in pregnancy.

“When you hear patients talk about their physicians and the great care they get, you know it’s heartfelt. You also know it takes everyone from the front desk greeting the patients to the nurses who take them to their exam rooms to make that experience personal.”

Progress Newkirk has seen in women’s health over the years:

  • “Electronic medical records allow us to the see the patient as a whole – outpatient and inpatient as one picture. It allows for better management of the patient.”
  • “Greater access to quality healthcare. More locations give women more choices and easier access to healthcare.”
  • “An increase in healthcare locations means providers are serving a diverse population. We are adapting to their needs.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.