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Meet Dr. Laura Vogel-Schwartz, Emergency Medicine Physician and Dedicated Leader

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Dr. Laura Vogel-Schwartz in the emergency department.

Dr. Laura Vogel-Schwartz is a role model, a leader, a mother and a compassionate board-certified emergency medicine physician. As she reflects on her extremely successful and fulfilling career, she gives a lot of credit to the people around her for encouraging her to take the next step.

One of those “next steps” was becoming the medical director of the emergency department at Aurora Medical Center in Manitowoc County, which was not what Vogel-Schwartz had in mind when she came to Green Bay in 1997.

An Unexpected Career Journey

Vogel-Schwartz had joined an established emergency medicine group and planned to just be a clinician throughout her career. Shortly after she joined, however, the group merged with BayCare Clinic. It seemed risky, but Vogel-Schwartz believes that ended up being the best move she could have made.

“I would do it all over again, even though it was a rough few years in the beginning.”

Bringing together 65 physicians and partnering with Aurora Medical Group to build a tertiary care hospital in Green Bay was not for the faint of heart. Many medical professionals thought BayCare Clinic would fold.

But, as BayCare Clinic celebrates 25 years of bringing specialty healthcare to Northeast Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Vogel-Schwartz reflects on how the organization has grown. She accepted the role as medical director of emergency medicine at Aurora Medical Center in Manitowoc County in 2001. The previous director was moving to lead the new emergency department in Green Bay at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

“I worked solely down there for a number of years. I was the presence of BayCare Emergency Medicine out there,” Vogel-Schwartz says.

She remembers the ER had about three rooms when she started. Now, the Manitowoc County facility has ten emergency rooms.

Vogel-Schwartz served as medical director there for more than 20 years. Through those years, she also served as the EMS medical director for several fire and first responder organizations in Manitowoc County. She got to lead committees and help establish protocols for their stroke, trauma, and sepsis situations while also training with the EMS organizations and medical students.

“I thought I was just going to do clinical medicine and one thing led to another,” Vogel-Schwarz says. “I realized I could make a bigger impact and I enjoyed what I was doing.”

Vogel-Schwartz remembers being nervous and excited as opportunities arose. It wasn’t in the plan, but others encouraged her, which helped Vogel-Schwartz believe she’d be a good fit as a leader for the team.

“You might do things you didn’t see yourself doing,” she says. “And I think that’s actually important to remember as a woman, because we don't always do those things. It's important to be in those roles.”

Reflecting on Her Career in the ED

Vogel-Schwartz has probably seen it all in her 25+ years in the emergency department. Her philosophy for patient care is simple: emergency medicine is a team sport.

“We’re all important, we’re all working together,” she says. “I can’t do it without you, you can’t do it without me. And we can provide the best care if we work together as a team.”

Vogel-Schwartz has started to pass the torch on to the next generation, stepping back from her leadership roles over the past few years.

“I hope that I’ve served as an example, helping to educate the people coming after us,” she says.

In a traditionally male-dominated field, Vogel-Schwartz feels proud to be a visible and successful role model to other women within, and outside of, BayCare Clinic.

“You can realize your potential. You can step out of your bubble. We can do things that are traditionally male dominated,” Vogel-Schwartz says. “You can succeed in them, and you can succeed in leadership roles.”

Family Provides the Balance

The dedication Vogel-Schwartz has to the emergency department doesn’t hold a candle to the dedication she has for her family. She and her husband raised their three children on a hobby farm out in the country, which provided the perfect balance to her sometimes-chaotic work life.

Now the kids are grown, and Vogel-Schwartz enjoys taking care of the horses that she and her daughter were involved in Pony Club with. Their farm has also been home to chickens and cows, which her husband jokingly named “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”

“He’s always had a really good sense of humor,” Vogel-Schwartz says with a chuckle. “And that’s really helped me do what I want to do, having a great balanced relationship.”

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2024