by Jan Urban
I contribute to the College of Nursing because of a remarkable woman with an unparalleled passion for nursing, Edna M. Swartzbeck. She earned her BS in Nursing ('63) and a Masters in Nursing ('74) at USC College of Nursing, both cum laude. A career that had begun as an ER nurse in Sharon, PA, was followed by 31 years of service at Dorn VA Medical Center where she retired as the first independent nurse practitioner. She served in the Army on active duty during the post Korean era and operations Desert Shield and Storm. Colonel Swartzbeck retired as chief nurse of the 3270th US Army Hospital Reserve Unit after 38 years of service. She was awarded both the National Defense Services Medal and the Legion of Merit.
A life member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society in Nursing, Edna’s many achievements included the SC Nurses Association Excellence in Practice Award (1982), the Joan Kershner VA Directors Commendation Award (1987) and the USC College of Nursing Legacy of Caring Award (2014). She was a member of the American and SC Nurses Association, the Horseshoe Society, the SC Education Foundation, the Reserve Officers Association, NARFE, and the Ft. Jackson Golf Club where she was the Ladies Club Champion for two years during the 60’s. She was passionate about nursing, as well as her church, philanthropy, gardening, birds, animals and especially her two kitties, Eddie and Faux Paw.
Throughout the years Edna introduced me to many of the leaders at the College of Nursing. These women are indeed some of our best and brightest, with both the vision and determination to move South Carolina from the bottom the health statistics. Edna also shared with me stories and letters from recipients of the Swartzbeck Scholarship in Nursing. She was immensely pleased with the impact her financial assistance provided to enable talented young people to pursue careers in nursing. If nurses are to remain the backbone of the healthcare profession they must look to loans and scholarships. Through Edna I saw just how important scholarship assistance can be.
Edna remained committed to the profession to which she had committed her life in her final months under the caring hands of a hospice nurse. She gifted her condo to the USC Foundation to assure that its full value without the expenses of probate would be available for nursing scholarships. Just months before her passing, Edna invited Dean Andrews to her home and presented her with a treasured bust of Florence Nightingale, a gift from Dean Amy Cockcroft.
I am blessed to have been Edna’s friend and can think of no better tribute to this remarkable woman and her memory, than my continued support of those entering the profession by contributions to the Edna M. Swartzbeck Scholarship in Nursing.