Cardiologist James “Jim” W. Snyder, MD, FACC, has spent over four decades serving patients in the Wilmington area and making significant impacts on developments in cardiology at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and in the community. As Dr. Snyder retires at the end of September from NHRMC Physician Group – Cape Fear Heart Associates, his colleagues and patients are remembering his career and care.
Dr. Snyder was instrumental in starting and growing NHRMC’s cardiac catheterization program.
“Dr. Snyder’s leadership has been vital in the transformation of New Hanover hospital’s cardiology program becoming the regionally and nationally recognized program that it is today,” said cardiologist William T. Smith, IV, MD, FACC.
Anticipating starting work in Wilmington in 2003, Dr. Smith said he hoped to find evidenced-based, patient-centered cardiologists like he was used to working with, and he found that in Dr. Snyder.
“Jim Snyder is the example that I would give as somebody who not only lived up to that but impressed me with his knowledge of contemporary data and his implementation of data-driven practice,” Dr. Smith said. “He leads by example and is very patient-centered and does what is right for his patients.”
Dr. Snyder was among three cardiologists who obtained training in cardiac catheterization and advocated for the first cardiac catheterization lab to open in Wilmington, Dr. Smith said, adding that Dr. Snyder’s leadership was instrumental in bringing both cardiothoracic surgery and interventional cardiology to the community.
Currently, thousands of catheterizations and coronary interventions are performed each year.
Dr. Snyder initially practiced in Internal Medicine. When Tamara Wallace, Dr. Snyder’s nurse for 30 years, began working with him, he was focused on family practice but soon started treating more patients with heart-related problems.
“Dr. Snyder was progressive in recognizing that patients could benefit from access to medical specialty care for certain conditions and was a founding member of Hanover Medical Specialists, when it was formed,” said Dr. Smith. Dr. Snyder practiced at HMS for over three decades and served several terms as practice medical director before joining Cape Fear Heart Associates. Dr. Snyder has served on NHRMC’s Medical Executive Committee and as the NHRMC Chief of Staff.
Facing cardiac issues can be scary for many patients. Dr. Snyder earned the trust and respect of his patients. “Dr. Snyder’s most impressive trait has been his steadfast devotion to patient care,” said Dr. Smith. “He has made countless trips to the ER, his catheterization lab and the NHRMC CCU to save lives.”
Wallace described Dr. Snyder as a compassionate doctor who takes time to explain things to his patients.
“He’s very down to earth,” Wallace said. “He takes the time needed to talk to patients, and we were never in a hurry. He’s always made sure that patients receive the best care that they can from him. He always told patients like it was and never beat around the bush, and patients appreciated that and his honesty.”
“Jim has done a very faithful and excellent job taking care of his patients, and he’s been a good community leader,” said Dr. Martin J. Conley, Jr. MD, FACC, Dr. Snyder’s longest working partner.
“When there’s a chance to lead an organization, whether it’s his practice, or at the hospital or county-wide things, at one time or another he’s always stepped up. That’s a special thing because if you are in a busy practice like ours, it’s challenging to step up and take leadership roles, but he’s done all of those things and earned the respect of everyone.”
“We’ve developed a lot of new things in cardiology over the last 40 years, and he’s been an essential part of doing all of those things,” said Dr. Conley, adding that new tools and developments have improved patient outcomes.
Drs. Smith and Conley said Dr. Snyder has continued to be passionate about cardiology, medicine, and learning new things even after practicing for 46 years and witnessing many changes in cardiac care. Dr. Snyder has enjoyed attending annual American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Symposiums held in New York that focus on new and innovative approaches and ideas in cardiovascular medicine. “He always impressed his younger colleagues with his acumen and knowledge of the latest advances,” said Dr. Smith.
Wallace said news of the doctor’s retirement has caused some tears among many patients.
One longtime patient, Roger Greene, said he will miss being under Dr. Snyder’s care, but he’s wishing him well in his retirement.
“I’ve been with him since 1988 when I first had a heart attack,” Greene said. “He happened to be the doctor on call at the hospital when I went, and I’ve been with him ever since. He’s been a blessing. He’s told me things I need to do, and I try to do those things. He’s been a good friend, and I’ve enjoyed having him as a doctor. He’ll take the time to sit with you and explain things. He’s a really good man.”