Award-Winning UNCG Professor Takes Compassion on the Road

Posted on December 12, 2023

Minvera's mobile health mobile in front of UNCG campus.

Whether she’s serving her students and patients locally or educating nurses and helping with disaster response in countries around the world, Audrey Snyder’s integrity and expertise shine through.

Audrey Synder wins NLN Humanitarian Award and poses with UNCG nursing faculty.
Snyder (center, left) and UNCG School of Nursing Dean Barksdale (center, right) with colleagues at the NLN Education Summit

Snyder, a UNC Greensboro professor and associate dean of the School of Nursing, was awarded the Lillian Wald Humanitarian Award in September 2023, at the National League for Nursing’s Education Summit in Maryland.

Snyder leads the school’s community engagement and academic partnerships and is a nurse practitioner, educator, and researcher with extensive experience in disaster preparedness and response.

In nominating her for the Wald Award, Dean Debra J. Barksdale cited Snyder’s unselfish dedication.

“She works with the young and old; national, international, and refugees; rural and underserved; different parts of the U.S. and across the globe in disasters, in crisis and in calm; the sick and the well, the White and Black and every hue in between; students and the public, the community, and the institutions,” Barksdale wrote. “Audrey is truly everything, everywhere and rises to the occasion when needed to promote human flourishing.”

Expertise in Action in Moldova

Just a week after receiving the humanitarian award, Snyder was rising to a new occasion. She accompanied North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and a delegation of other university experts on a mission to Moldova.

Snyder’s role was to represent the North Carolina-Republic of Moldova Nursing collaborative and to meet with leaders to help promote and define the role of nursing in Moldova and obtain support for the master’s degree in nursing program. She spoke to a university and college community about the role of nursing and to explore ways to continue promoting the nursing profession in the Eastern European country.

Snyder has been involved in the collaborative and has helped educate Moldovan nurses as they worked with refugees following the invasion of Ukraine, which wraps around the northern, eastern, and southern borders of the much smaller Moldova. She also hosted a delegation of Moldovan healthcare providers who came to UNCG to learn about the use of simulation in nursing education.

While in Moldova this fall, Snyder visited an oncology hospital, a pediatric oncology unit, an adult pulmonary unit, a community clinic, and the Moldova for Peace warehouse. What she learned about healthcare and nursing practice, she says, will be helpful in her ongoing collaboration with Moldova’s nursing community.

“When you are able to be there and to shadow and have that visibility, it gives you a bigger picture,” she says.

Around the Globe

In addition to her work in Moldova, Snyder has volunteered on a surgical team in India providing cleft lip and other repairs, helped with earthquake response in El Salvador and Haiti, and assisted with refugee response at the U.S.-Mexico border.

She also serves the nursing community through her leadership as past president of the Rural Nurse Organization and the co-founder of the Global Rural Nurse Exchange Network.

In Summer 2023, Snyder accompanied 16 UNCG School of Nursing students for a global health and preparedness study abroad experience in the two-island Caribbean federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, where they used the islands as a microcosm to study community disaster resilience. Students shadowed professionals in the hospital and the community health centers.

Their experiences, she says, will help the students long-term, no matter wherever they serve.

“When we take students out of their comfort zone and put them in another country and make them uncomfortable, they have to learn; it opens their eyes in many ways,” Snyder says.

And Close to Home

While Snyder has taken her work and her students out of the country several times, she’s also focused on serving people closer to home.

Audrey Synder poses with Minerva team and Mayor Nancy Vaugh.
Dr. Snyder (center) with UNCG School of Nursing Minerva Mobile Health staff and students.

For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she responded by leading nursing faculty, students, and alumni at the vaccine center at UNCG for the community. And she used a $3.7 million grant to establish a mobile health unit service to increase access to healthcare in six rural and underserved North Carolina counties.

Through the service, students in UNCG’s bachelor of science in nursing program, as well as nurse practitioner students in the graduate program, get clinical experiences in the mobile health unit and at pop-up clinics. 

Like the study abroad program in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Minerva’s Mobile Health “also gets students out of their comfort zone,” Snyder says. “Students have to understand the contextual challenges where their patients live.”

Watching students gain this understanding drives Snyder’s commitment to the underserved and the unenfranchised, regardless of where they live.

“We would have much greater peace in the world if students had the opportunity to actually engage in other cultures,” she says. By seeing through the lens of others, students are able “to look differently at life, at healthcare and at privilege.”

Having students see and hear “with their own eyes and ears” she says, is when it makes a difference.

Story by Dee Shore, AMBCopy LLC
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Dr. Audrey Snyder, School of Nursing 

Audrey Synder poses with Faculty and students at Nightingale Ave in St. Kitts.

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