When the COVID-19 pandemic hit with a wave of cancellations that altered the way of life, Kimberly Snowdon, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, IBCLC, jumped into action. She joined a leadership team that led dozens of clinicians on the front lines at COVID-19 vaccine clinics serving thousands of age-eligible residents in Oakland County, Michigan. That was during the first months of her new position as chief of medical services for the Oakland County Health Division in Michigan.
Together with other leaders at the health division, she led a clinic in the summer of 2021 that brought all vaccines needed to start school to a school district in the county. The goal was to bring the vaccinations to students who faced transportation barriers, to get them to the county’s stationary clinics. Quickly, her team realized there was a greater need beyond the COVID-19 vaccines, and during school registration they distributed all vaccines for students and met them face-to-face. Kimberly describes that event as, “one of the most satisfying experiences of my career and cannot underscore the importance of public health work.”
Now, the Chamberlain family nurse practitioner (FNP) alumna is tirelessly advocating for vaccines for young children from infants to kindergarten. This May, she will bring the same model to kindergarten registration right at the school. "
We've been in the trenches," says Snowdon, who together with a robust leadership team, provides health services for the second largest county in Michigan. Her mission: to serve the community every single day by delivering fair and equitable health care, the best health care has to offer,” she says.
A nurse for 24 years, and a doctoral candidate, Snowdon is no stranger to challenges. She began her nursing career in Arizona as an ER technician and had her sights set on anesthesiology. But early on she moved to back to her home state of Michigan. When her daughters Kaleen, 24, and Kate, 16, were young, she served as the clinical director for an asthma and allergy center. Despite the challenges of working full-time, the center’s chief executive officer encouraged her to go back to school and become a family nurse practitioner to focus on public health and issues of social inequities in healthcare including the LGBTQ+ community and the challenges that new and expectant mothers and babies face. Kimberly says, “He saw something in me and said, ‘keep going, Snowdon.’” “I am just as surprised as anyone else where my path has taken me.”
“I kept resisting because I had little kids at the time, but I really wanted to make a difference and followed my heart and passion,” she says. “Chamberlain really taught me to take what you feel strongly about and figure out a way to go out into the community and make that happen. I’m a strong proponent in getting certified in an area you have a passion for and so I got certified in lactation so that I could help moms struggling with breastfeeding.”
During the last two decades, Snowdon, 47, explored the world of nursing and its impact in addressing the social inequities of diversity, equity and inclusion.
While completing her FNP rotation for her nurse practicum at Chamberlain, Snowdon took the initiative to go into the community to promote healthcare education and facilitated a support group for mothers and babies.
Always an innovator, she’s dedicated to removing barriers and increasing access to healthcare. During the first few years of her career, she worked in the NICU with critically ill newborns and has a professional and personal commitment to the health of mothers and babies. A board-certified lactation consultant, she led the way for St. Mary Mercy Hospital to implement their very first human donor milk supplementation program in 2018. The donor milk is intended for exclusively breastfeeding mothers who are having difficulty producing sufficient milk for their child. Although Snowdon has moved on, she hopes the program continues for years to come and feels as though she left her “nursing footprint” at the hospital.
“I wanted to be able to better help those mothers who are committed to breastfeeding but need some supplemental support while building their own supply,” said Snowdon. “The team of nurses and doctors who helped make that program happen with me will always hold a special place in my heart. That was blood, sweat and tears type of work and it was worth every second.”
Snowdon is a member of the State of Michigan’s Mother Infant Health Policy and Legislation Action Committee. The committee meets monthly, and a great deal of work gets done to ensure mothers and babies in Michigan get quality care throughout the state. She is also overseeing a large grant and put together an energetic team that works to detect COVID-19 spikes in some congregate living facilities in the county.
“My grad school education truly prepared me to manage large scale projects like this one,” she says. “It’s all about teamwork when it comes to projects like that, and we are a great team.”
She won a Daisy Award in 2011 for her tireless commitment to community support groups and prenatal and breastfeeding classes while at St. Joseph’s Health System and was nominated twice for the Make a Difference annual award.
Throughout her career, she’s made the going, good. Along with her two daughters and husband Kevin, she co-founded a “Crosswords for Cancer” campaign, which donated hundreds of crosswords books each Christmas for the radiation department patients and also led a Christmas drive for a family who was affected by cancer.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Snowdon’s family worked with the Ford Motor Company that donated multiple supplies to local health care facilities, along with 2,000 energy drinks donated by her friends for hospital staff in the Metro-Detroit area.
Snowdon is a strong advocate for nurse empowerment and is pushing for nurses to rally together during the challenges of the last two years. She also feels strongly that the healthcare teams she works with make sure to practice self-care. On that front, she’s into kickboxing, an hour a day on the elliptical, reading non-medical books and journaling. She thanks God, her husband, daughters, parents, extended family and friends for the support to keep going. “I am looking forward to completing my doctorate but knowing me, I will probably keep looking to get another certification, because you really can’t have too many. The beauty of nursing is it is a never-ending education opportunity for self-growth. I am inspired every day by the amazing clinicians I work with and have worked with over the years.”
She tells all the nurses under her leadership, “I have an open-door policy, and that means call me at 1pm or 1am—I am always a call, text or chat away.”
The LGBTQ+ pin she wears on her lab coat speaks volumes about her commitment “to create a safe and affirming space for all patients.” “We try to greet all patients with a ‘So glad you are here.’ And we mean it.”
By Chamberlain University
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