John Snyder is the new president of Sanford Health Plan. Here, he shares his life growing up in a military family that moved across the country, highlights his background in pharmacy and transition into administration, and lays out his intent to focus on servant leadership and member experience.
New to South Dakota
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, John Snyder lived “here, there and everywhere, from coast to coast” growing up in a military family. He spent several years in Anaheim, California, and maintains a love of all things Disney.
The family also moved to North Carolina, Texas, back to Tennessee — all around. However, this is his first time living in South Dakota.
Background in pharmacy
Snyder earned his undergraduate degree from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, and he keeps his pharmacist license active to this day. Snyder’s first job was as a staff pharmacist at the hospital where he worked all through school.
After about a year, he accepted an opportunity to take on a supervisory role at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, Illinois, a city located about two hours northeast of St. Louis.
Snyder moved to manager and then director of pharmacy at Sarah Bush. Knowing he wanted to move up in administration, he earned his master’s in business administration at Eastern Illinois University in neighboring Charleston, Illinois.
It was at that point that Snyder received an interesting offer from Carle Hospital (now Carle Health System) in Urbana, Illinois: If he would address the issues facing their hospital pharmacy, they would promote him in administration. He spent about nine months as director of pharmacy, remedying difficulties and streamlining their pharmacy practice.
Career in administration
Having achieved the goal they laid before him, Carle Hospital promoted Snyder to assistant vice president of facilities. Although it was an area outside of his expertise, Snyder accepted the position and committed himself to learning the role.
Eventually, he became chief operating officer for Carle Hospital. In 2010, Carle Hospital merged with Carle Clinic. While sharing a name, the two were actually quite different organizations. Snyder’s work focused on the provider side of the system.
In 2014, he began his involvement with Carle Health Plan. Snyder took on the role of chief administrative officer and eventually attained the position of president and chief executive officer. Overall, he spent nearly 31 years with Carle before recently joining Sanford Health.
Joining Sanford Health Plan
Snyder long knew of Sanford Health through the Clinic Club, a long-term, well-established group of organizations that meets annually and to which Carle Health System also belongs.
“I always got to hear about the Sanford Health story. I was always very impressed with what was going on at Sanford Health. It struck me as very innovative and progressive compared with what I was used to,” Snyder said. “So when I heard about this opportunity, I thought it was a great chance to get involved with the organization.”
Taking on a new role
During his first two weeks on the job, Snyder has honed his attention on learning about Sanford Health, the Sanford Health Plan and the Sanford Family.
After that, he plans to identify strengths and potential areas of improvement. Aligning himself with the strategy for the health plan and the system as a whole, Synder then intends to produce promised results.
“Improving things and making things better for patients and members” — that’s what Snyder enjoys most about the work he does, and he plans to bring that enthusiasm and energy for creating the best possible experience to the Sanford Health Plan.
His approach to leading the health plan will be to follow the best lesson he’s learned throughout his career: servant leadership. Snyder intends to do everything necessary to make sure those working around him are empowered to do the best work possible.
Creating an experience
Throughout his career, Snyder is most proud of having developed the Carle Experience, a new culture that is patient and member focused that the newly integrated Carle Hospital and Carle Clinic would share. It was about defining clear values and behaviors of the organization and holding people accountable to them.
Snyder said following its implementation, they would read comments asking, “What are you doing at Carle now? Because it’s different, and it’s better.”
“That’s when I knew we had arrived, and we had made a difference,” Snyder said.
Snyder intends to focus on bringing that background in patient and member experience to the Sanford Health Plan.
“I want to make sure that the member experience is as positive as it can be, and I keep in mind that we can always be better. Then, I want to maximize the value of the Sanford Health Plan for the Sanford Health system,” he said.
One way he shows his commitment to reaching goals: the lofty goals he sets for himself.
His current passion is back-country hiking. He’s gone rim to rim to rim through the Grand Canyon — multiple times.
“I really enjoy getting out there and having to rely on myself to survive,” said Snyder. “I get a great sense of accomplishment doing that.”
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