Atlanta, GA,
10:00 AM

Charge Nurse Discusses Being a Nurse in Shepherd Center's New Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit

Tiffany Schader, BSN, CRRN – a 17-year veteran of Shepherd Center – is the charge nurse in Shepherd Center’s CRU.

Q: What kind of patients are seen in the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit (CRU)?

A: We call this the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit because we do a little bit of everything. We started out as the skin-flap surgery floor, but then expanded to provide additional levels of care that complement the hospital’s specialized rehabilitation units. Now, we treat everyone from newly injured patients with brain and spinal cord injuries to patients admitted due to medical complications or catastrophic injuries with multiple fractures or amputations. We also treat patients with a new diagnosis of a neurological disease, such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barre syndrome, which requires both medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Q: What’s distinctive about Shepherd Center’s CRU, compared with other hospitals?

A: For one thing, our patient population is much more diverse than you’re likely to see in general orthopedic units. We are also much more rehabilitation-focused, even early in treatment. There’s a rehabilitation focus throughout everything we do. And our nurses are cross-trained on everything, so they can work with every type of patient we see.

Q: What are your primary duties as the CRU charge nurse?

A: My main job is to oversee operations, and to make sure our nurses are assigned to an appropriate group of patients to provide ample, quality care. During the day, I’m making sure things are happening – procedures are getting done, therapy is happening on schedule, shifts are covered – and that everybody is aware of what’s going on. That means I need to encourage good communication between therapists, nurses, doctors, counselors, patients and families.

Q: Do you still do any hands-on nursing duties?

A: Oh, yes. I’m definitely a “working” charge nurse. I’ll go through the unit as often as I can and help with patient care by changing wound vacs, starting IVs and passing medications. But the joke among the staff is that I really just want to run “Tiffany’s Beauty School” here. I’ll give patients haircuts, paint their nails, color their hair, or do a patient’s makeup when they have an outing coming up. I just do little things like that when I have time and someone needs a little extra TLC.


Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Registered Nurse / Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse


  • Tiffany went on a five-week solo trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya this summer to see Africa’s wildlife. “I went for the big cats, but I fell in love with the elephants and the warthogs.” Along the way, she volunteered with orphaned rhinos, joined a geo-adventure group and did a yoga retreat.
  • Tiffany has two wild animals (OK, dogs) of her own: a Catahoula Leopard blend and an English Pointer mix.
  • If she wasn’t a nurse, she’d be a backup dancer for Justin Timberlake. Or, if that didn’t pan out, she’d be an esthetician.
  • Little-known fact: Tiffany once tried out for the TV show Survivor. She did not make the cut. “It’s probably for the best,” she says.

Interview by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Louie Favorite

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.