The Doctor Is In: Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D.

Story by Linda Arntzenius // Photography by Benoit Cortet; NBC Universal Media, LLC.

At a time when women’s health services are under attack, Nancy Snyderman is an encouraging presence on the NBC Nightly News. As Chief Medical Editor, Snyderman brings a wealth of professional expertise and personal experience to her job. As pediatrician, surgeon, journalist, single parent, daughter, wife, and sometime patient, she’s weathered her fair share of crises: her father’s cancer, her husband’s Lyme Disease and subsequent depression, and the aftermath of being raped at 19 by an intruder in her college dorm. In a rare moment of quietude, Snyderman speaks about her work and her life here in Princeton.

AT HOME IN PRINCETON

Outside, the Snyderman home is a picture postcard of tree peonies and irises below blooming dogwoods and azaleas. Inside, the colors are earth-toned. The polished wood antiques are not precious pieces bought for show but rather made to use like the old French farm table in the dining room and the dresser with its display of ironstone jugs and platters. The effect is one of casual comfort. Contemporary artworks – Snyderman favors women artists – share space with found objects from nature: a robin’s nest with pieces of blue shell in its downy center. There’s enough Folk Art to soften the edge of sophistication but not so much as to tip toward whimsy. The rugs are by Princeton designer Katie Eastridge, who, as it happens was a childhood friend of Snyderman’s way back when in Indiana. After Snyderman moved to Princeton in 2004, they reconnected, 50 years after grade school.

GROWING UP IN INDIANA

Snyderman hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Ozzie-and-Harriet land,” is how she describes her childhood neighborhood of classic ranch-style homes with adjoining backyards, every one with a dinner bell. “It was all very innocent; we rode our bikes and the girls played football with the boys. My father was a doctor and we were a nice cozy middle class family, me, my two brothers and sister. It was the exuberant late 1950s/early 1960s. Life was serene. I don’t think there is another person on earth who had a better childhood than I did.”

Snyderman’s ambition was always to be a doctor. She soaked up the pride and love her father had for his work on visits to the hospital with him when he gave her graham crackers and chocolate milk in the doctor’s lounge.

After graduating with a bachelor’s in microbiology from Indiana University in 1974, Snyderman went to medical school at the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1977. Her first residency at the University of Pittsburgh was in pediatrics, and then she embarked on a second in ear, nose, and throat surgery. Shortly after joining the surgical staff at the University of Arkansas in 1983, her broadcasting career began. While working for an ABC affiliate television station, her taped report for “Good Morning America,” led to a 17-year career with ABC alongside the likes of Charlie Gibson, Joan London, and Diane Sawyer. Snyderman headed West, ultimately settling in Marin County, California.

FROM MARIN COUNTY TO MERCER COUNTY

But when Snyderman was working at Johnson & Johnson and received an appointment at the University of Pennsylvania, she and her husband, TV sports producer Doug Myers, came east from California in search of a new home. Their first thought was Bucks County but that changed when they visited Princeton one day for lunch: “We discovered what a nice place Princeton is. And that was it. Now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

After the big skies and open space of ranch living in Marin County, Princeton’s lush greenery seemed, at least to Snyderman’s then 11 year-old son Charlie, a little gloomy. But Snyderman wanted a “bi-coastal experience” for her three kids and was finding their Northern California community had become a tad “too affluent and quite precious.”

Four years ago, Snyderman’s parents, now 89 and 85, also relocated to Princeton and live just two blocks away. “The thing I like about Princeton is that it is authentic. I know stay-at-home moms, moms who are in the workforce, moms who no longer work, and moms raising young kids. It’s a phenomenally supportive community.”

A second home in Burlington, Vermont offers snow-shoeing in winter and hiking in summer, Snyderman’s preferred forms of relaxation, along with travel and horseback riding, when she can. The Snyderman household is incomplete unless it includes at least one horse, two dogs and a cat. She recently sold her horse and is looking for another but not until she returns from covering the Olympics in London for NBC this summer.

Like most Californian transplants, Snyderman gained an appreciation for the seasons. After two years at Princeton High School (PHS) and about to turn 18, son Charlie is now at a prep school in Connecticut. Daughter Rachel enrolled at PHS for her sophomore year and graduated president of her class. Now 23, she’s in Washington, D.C., on her way to becoming a Latin American economist. Her older sister Kate, now 25, is a veterinary technician in Redbank.

Snyderman finds time to serve on the boards of Corner House and Trinity Counseling. She received the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award from Womanspace in 2009, especially pleasing because of her long friendship with ABC political reporter Cokie Roberts, Barbara Boggs Sigmund’s sister.

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