#TheMindBehind Neuroscience Nursing: Cindy Sneller

Throughout her childhood, Cindy Sneller often heard stories about her grandmother’s service as a United States Army nurse during World War II. As Cindy prepared for college, she found herself drawn to a nursing career of her own.

Not only did she have a desire to help people, but she appreciated the dynamic nature of the nursing field and its abundant opportunities beyond the bedside.

“I wanted to work in a field that was highly collaborative and would allow me to continually grow,” she recalled.

Nursing Journey: Emergency Medicine and Leadership

Cindy graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Loma Linda University in Southern California in 1999. She stayed in the region after graduating, starting her nursing career at Dignity Health St. Bernardine Medical Center and Loma Linda University Medical Center. She worked as a staff nurse at both hospitals and as a clinical nurse educator in the emergency department at Loma Linda.

In 2003, Cindy began working at Orange County-based Trigon Electronics, a telecommunications company which develops and installs emergency phones and towers. Simultaneously, she served as a nursing consultant and per-diem bedside nurse at nearby emergency departments. She spent 16 years at Trigon, climbing the leadership ladder to the executive level.

“I have always felt equally drawn to leadership,” she said. “I enjoy getting to know each individual and drawing on their strengths to help them grow.”

In 2019, Cindy left Trigon for a full-time nursing leadership position. UCI Health, where she had been working on a per-diem basis, hired her to manage their Regional Burn Center. That same year, Cindy obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice and Clinical Nurse Specialist degree from Loma Linda University.

Cindy rejoined the Dignity Health system this past February as an emergency department manager at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. During her eight months in the role, she impressed her colleagues with her strong leadership in developing teams, hospital operations, and clinical processes.

In October, Cindy assumed a new role at St. Joseph’s: director of neuroscience nursing at Barrow Neurological Institute.

Finding the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ at Barrow

With the majority of her career spent in Level 1 Trauma Centers, Cindy gained significant exposure to critically ill patients with a variety of neurological injuries and disorders. She often wondered about their recovery after they’d left the emergency department.

“The ED focuses solely on patient stabilization,” she said. “I was always interested in following up on patient outcomes for those who would come through the ED, so being on the other side of the long-term outcomes is a great fit,” Cindy said.

And with her interest in nursing leadership, the Barrow position provides her with the “best of both worlds.”

“It allows me to continue to grow my knowledge and exposure to long-term patient outcomes and, at the same time, work with nursing leadership to use evidence-based practice, leadership development, and quality metrics to support and grow the highly skilled Barrow nursing department.”

Cindy’s role at Barrow operates on the patient, staff, leadership, and organizational levels. She oversees neuroscience nursing patient care standards, quality improvement initiatives, and innovative projects. In addition to optimizing patient outcomes and ensuring patient safety, Cindy is passionate about cultivating future leaders and building a cohesive team across disciplines.

“My focus is to help continue to grow Barrow nursing to be the premier place to work in Phoenix,” she said. “That includes reducing turnover, growing and supporting newly graduated nurses, and having strong leadership development.”

Cindy felt drawn to Barrow because of its international, national, and local reputation as a leader in the neurosciences. It didn’t take long for her to feel right at home.

“I have been warmly welcomed, strongly supported, and quickly integrated as part of this amazing team,” she said. “I am proud to be part of such a dynamic team that is a fantastic fit with my personality and vision.”