Dr. Marijo Snyder always had a passion for medicine, but as a woman attending college in the 1970s, it was good mentoring that convinced her to follow her dream to become a doctor.
“I got some encouragement that I had the capacity to be a physician, so I switched to pre-medicine, always wanting to do women’s health,” Dr. Snyder said. “I had already read about a ‘new’ procedure called a labor epidural in middle school and high school. I never had a question about what field I would go into.”
Now, after a fulfilling three-decade career as an OB/GYN physician and physician administrator, Dr. Snyder said she wants to be a mentor to the medical school’s OB/GYN residents in her new part-time role as interim chair for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Snyder is a graduate of Calvin College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology/chemistry. She earned her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine and went on to complete a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Snyder provided clinical care in Kalamazoo in private practice from 1988 to 2011. She has served in several leadership positions at Bronson Healthcare Group, including chief of staff at Bronson Methodist Hospital, board trustee, medical director, and vice president of System Quality. Her most recent position was vice president of Medical Staff Development and Clinical Engagement from 2015 until her retirement in 2019.
For the last month, Dr. Snyder has worked closely with Dr. Debra Taubel, chair of the medical school’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to ensure a smooth transition before Dr. Taubel departs WMed on November 4.
Dr. Snyder said she was happy in retirement but wanted to help the department in a time of transition with Dr. Taubel’s departure and the unexpected death of another faculty member, Dr. Rebekah Sharp. Dr. Snyder is a familiar face to many at WMed – she was on the search committee for the medical school’s founding dean, Dr. Hal B. Jenson. She worked closely with Dr. Robert Rebar, the founding chair of the department, and helped recruit Dr. Taubel.
“When I was asked to consider taking on this role, I realized that I already knew most of the OB/GYN physicians in town, the dynamics of the institutions, and that I could be a stabilizing force for the program in their time of crisis,” Dr. Snyder said. “It felt like a continuation of my commitment to the WMed community, and in particular, the residents.”
Dr. Snyder said her top priority is to recruit a new chair for the department and to bring the faculty staffing up to full capacity. In the short-term, she also is planning to get partial call coverage for the department’s faculty to allow them time to continue to teach residents and students. Dr. Snyder said her second priority is to help recruit a new class of residents virtually, with recruiting season already underway.
One faculty member has been hired and will start in March, which leaves one faculty position and the chair position vacant. A nationwide search for a new department chair has begun, with Dr. Robert Sawyer, chair of the medical school’s Department of Surgery, leading the search committee. Dr. Snyder said her goal is to have a new department chair hired by July 2022.
The quality of OB/GYN care is outstanding in Southwest Michigan, and particularly in Kalamazoo, Dr. Snyder said. She lived in the area and raised her family here before retiring up north to Fife Lake. She still has a home in Kalamazoo.
“Kalamazoo is a great place to learn, live and be in and the medical school and the OB/GYN residency are wonderful additions to that,” Dr. Snyder said.
Several of the medical school’s current faculty members in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology have been appointed to leadership positions.
Dr. Silvia Linares will serve as the residency program director. Dr. Linares joined the medical school in 2019 as an assistant professor, and was part of the teaching faculty for two years' prior to her hire. She was an attending physician for Bronson Women’s Service in Kalamazoo and an attending physician at Bronson Methodist Hospital and Bronson South Haven Hospital.
Dr. Melinda Abernethy will serve as the associate program director. Dr. Abernethy is chief of the medical school’s Division of Urogynecology/Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. She joined WMed in 2018 as an associate professor.
Dr. Zylkia Rodriguez will serve as the clinic medical director. Dr. Rodriguez joined the medical school in July 2020 as an assistant professor. Prior to joining WMed, Dr. Rodriguez was an OB/GYN physician at Bronson Women’s Services in Kalamazoo. She served as the Director of Clinical Practice for Women’s Health at Bronson Methodist Group for three years and also served as medical director for Bronson Women’s Services.