Inspired to a career in medicine at the age of 9 after watching the Bing Crosby movie “Little Boy Lost,” which features a nun taking care of a young boy, Diane Marie Miller, RN, BSN, began working in a hospital at just 13 years old. Her very first responsibilities included sorting x-rays and pushing a candy cart around for all the patients and patrons. While in high school, she obtained certification as a nurse’s aide at that same hospital and, in 1966, earned a diploma as a registered nurse from the St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing.
Subsequently, Ms. Miller embarked on her career proper as a staff nurse at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, before making a move to Michigan, where she held the same role of staff nurse with the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti. While in Michigan, she sought to further her studies and matriculated at Eastern Michigan University, ultimately achieving a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1982. During this time, she and two colleagues, working from a project they had started during their undergraduate studies, founded the Golden Opportunities Day-Care Center for the Elderly in Brighton, Michigan, where Ms. Miller excelled as vice president and health coordinator.
With her main area of expertise being cardiology, Ms. Miller is also skilled in step down intensive care unit work, telemetry and orthopedics. Prior to her retirement in 2018 after more than 50 years in the field, she excelled as a staff nurse with the Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and also spent time on the nursing research committee. Working nights in a part-time capacity as she raised her family, she achieved considerable success due to her commitment, her dedication to following through, her ability to compromise and her top-notch social skills. Furthermore, she credits her love of nursing and her ongoing drive to help others as additional reasons behind her motivation throughout her career.
Ms. Miller has made a name for herself as a result of her critical thinking skills and ability to puzzle out complex and potentially life-threatening conditions in her patients. She notably recalls a time where she insisted on performing a scan early for a patient because she felt something wasn’t right, and wound up discovering that a wire from the patient’s pacemaker had punctured her heart. The patient was subsequently rushed to surgery and lived. Another moment that has stayed with her was the time she was caring for a man who was doing very poorly and was presumed to be dying. Ms. Miller decided not to move him and took careful care of him throughout the night, which turned out to be exactly what was needed and when she saw him, alive and well, a week later, he thanked her for saving his life.
In her retirement, Ms. Miller has remained active within her community. She is a member of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and is very involved in her local church, through which she pays regular visits to elderly church members. Furthermore, she has developed a reputation as the “neighborhood nurse,” who is always there to provide advice and aide when neighbors are under the weather or having health problems. Currently, she is looking into health care advocacy in order help people who have been neglected and abused by the health care system, and, looking toward the future, she plans to volunteer with Camp Care, a summer camp for children with cancer, where her son, Michael, had previously served on the board.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, to father Louis Bauer and mother Alice Louise Lehmann, Ms. Miller cites her grandmother, who was a Mennonite, as her greatest mentor, noting that it was the Mennonite values of hard work, helpfulness and service to others she grew up with that helped her to excel. She has been married to her husband, Paul F. Miller, since 1968, and is now his caretaker. Together they are the proud parents of four children, Mark, who is the chief financial officer of UNC Health, the hospital system of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Matthew; Amy; and Michael, who recently passed away from a resurgence of childhood cancer at the age of 45. Above all she has accomplished over the course of her career, Ms. Miller considers the absolute highlight of her life to be when she assisted the midwife during the birth of her daughter Amy’s fourth child — her sixth grandchild.