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April 14, 2016 - Meet Robert Schwan, USA Medical Center Emergency Department Unit Supervisor


From his days as a nursing student, working in the University of South Alabama Medical Center Emergency Department, Robert Schwan knew that’s where he belonged.

“I have a true desire to help people and to help them feel better,” says Schwan. And from those early days as a student in the emergency department he remembers the realization: “This is what I love to do. I want to be an ER nurse at USA Medical Center.”

Unit supervisor in the Emergency Department since 2007, Schwan was one of the hospitals’ nominees for the 2015 Christie Miree Employee Service Awards.

“I take great pride in saying I work at the USA Medical Center emergency room,” says Schwan. “We have a great team here. We offer the highest level of care in this area. We are a Level 1 Trauma Center, Certified Stroke Center and Burn Center.

“We want everyone to stay safe and well, but if they do get injured or sick, we have the trained medical professionals, facilities and resources to provide high level specialty care.”  

The most challenging days, he says, are high acuity days, when everyone steps up to get the job done. Such days demand the best use of assessment skills, prioritization of care and making prudent decisions under stress. “Teamwork, communication and following sound processes help us to provide optimal care to our patients.”

“A good day”, he says, “is one that’s steady — not too busy, not too quiet — which gives the opportunity for us to spend additional time with our patients.”

Emergency work is stressful, he says, adding, “A great quality of our ER nurses is that they are able to make good decisions under stress.”

To keep his own stress levels under control, Schwan loves to exercise. Three days a week he teaches indoor cycling and cross training classes at Sportplex before work.

Schwan coordinates and teaches the Trauma Nursing Core Course, a national certification program developed by the Emergency Nurses Association to offer RNs the core knowledge and skills to care for trauma patients. “All of our ER nurses must complete this course,” he says, and the majority of our instructors work or have worked at the USA Medical Center’s ER.

Serving as an instructor along with Angie Morehead, he co-teaches a program on non-violent crisis intervention every other month. It helps frontline staff members identify a potential problem or crisis situation and know how to handle it without letting it escalate further. “Many of our ER, ICU, clinical administrators and security staff members have taken this course and use these strategies,” he says.

A Mobile native, Schwan is a graduate of the USA College of Nursing. He and his wife, Diane, have two children, Noah and Shelby.

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