Growing up in the 1970s, Dr. Audrey Snyder enjoyed watching the characters in the TV series “Emergency!” respond under pressure.
Snyder hoped to someday come to the rescue of patients as well. She wanted to be a paramedic, but the volunteer rescue squad near her hometown of Cascade, Va., didn’t allow women at the time.
After working in a hospital emergency department, Snyder accepted a job that seemed ripped from an episode of “Emergency!”. She worked as a flight nurse for more than eight years, including as a crewmember on the University of Virginia Health System’s helicopter known as Pegasus.
Snyder said she had to be at “the top of my game” as a nurse every time Pegasus swooped in to treat and transport a patient injured in a car accident, experiencing heart failure, or in need of an organ transplant.
“I’m not someone who is, as other people might say of emergency personnel, an adrenaline junkie. I’m not,” she said. “I’m very calm under pressure, and that’s what colleagues would tell you from working with me previously in the air and on the ground, is that I’m always very calm and I lend a sense of calmness to a critical situation, which often is needed.”
Snyder has brought her soothing nature and visionary thinking to a brand-new position in UNC Greensboro’s School of Nursing. As associate dean for experiential learning and innovation, she’s working with every program in the nursing school to create cutting-edge clinical opportunities for students.
Snyder has found new clinical sites that will inspire students while continuing to meet the needs of the community.
“Dr. Snyder’s background and her sense of innovation will help us to pave the way for new educational experiences that will enrich our programs and help us to prepare for the future needs of our community,” – Dr. Robin Remsburg, dean of the School of Nursing
Prior to arriving at UNCG, Snyder spent five years as a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado, where she helped create and develop its Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. She also taught at the University of Virginia.
Along with being new to UNCG, Snyder’s position is unique compared to what other nursing schools are doing. The School of Nursing has placed an emphasis on creating innovative clinical experiences for students, which is one of Snyder’s strengths.
Over the years, she has developed study abroad programs in such countries as Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, and El Salvador.
“The primary mission of a school of nursing is to educate nurses,” she said, “but as a part of that mission of education of nurses, we have to look at how we serve the community and have a change in mindset of a way to help better the community.”
Along with watching “Emergency!” every Saturday night, Snyder’s interest in becoming a nurse grew out of what she saw around her house as a kid.
Her grandmother, Lena, was bedridden after having complications from emergency surgery for a gastrointestinal issue. She lived with Snyder’s family, who took care of her instead of home health nurses.
At first, Snyder was too young to do more than keep her grandmother company and listen to her stories about being a midwife. As Snyder grew older, though, she learned to do everything from bathe her grandmother and change her sheets to prepare her feeding tube and empty her catheter bag.
“By the time I went to nursing school, I knew a whole lot about catheters and feeding tubes and caring for patients,” Snyder said.
Story by Alex Abrams, School of Nursing
Photography by Alex Abrams, School of Nursing, and special to the School of Nursing