National Nurses Week: From ballerina to nurse, area woman fulfilling life’s calling

For Elise Miller, being a nurse is more than a job, it is her life’s calling to help those in need.
For Elise Miller, being a nurse is more than a job, it is her life’s calling to help those in need.

For Elise Miller, being a nurse is more than a job, it has been her life’s calling since the age of eight.

Miller, who lives in Yellow Springs, works at the Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek as a registered nurse in the emergency department. During the coronavirus pandemic, Miller said she has worked with COVID-19 patients.

“We get through it with our weird, dark medical humor,” she said of her nursing colleagues.” We all have big hearts and love to connect with people. I realized that my job provides me with a fair amount of social exposure that so many people aren’t getting right now. It puts me at risk, but my world hasn’t been so totally turned upside down. I’m grateful to be essential and at the same time I wish I could be home with my kids.”

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The Dayton Daily News is highlighting area nurses during National Nurses Week and the heroic work they do to serve others.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller said Soin’s emergency department prided itself on being the busiest of its kind in the Kettering Health Network even though it’s a smaller facility.

“It is a fast-growing department, and also very fast paced. Being smaller, nurses tend to do a lot more of everything from triaging patients, drawing labs, giving medications, splinting broken bones, getting EKGs, responding to emergency codes throughout the hospital, arriving patients coming in by medic, educating patients, and changing the sheets and taking out the trash too! I get a lot of steps in during my 12-hour shifts and take care of a very wide variety of patients,” she said.

Miller has been an RN for seven years now and has been at Soin for just shy of a year. Before this she worked at Miami Valley Hospital. But before putting on the badge of a nurse, she had other dreams.

“I wanted to be a ballerina when I was growing up, but my grandmother, my dad’s mom, went to nursing school during World War II and worked as a nurse in the ’50s and ’60s,” Miller recounted. “I adored her and once when I was 8 I wrote her a letter telling her I wanted to be a nurse like her.”

Miller said she had a fascination with the human body and health and how people interact with one another, so when she went off the the dance path, she decided to take nursing prerequisite courses at Hocking College near Athens, Ohio, which is where she grew up.

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“I got free tuition there because my mom used to work there. I did all the prerequisite courses and really enjoyed them, but then left that on the back burner when I got pregnant with my son,” Miller said. “When he was two and I was looking at how I was really going to support myself as a single mom and become autonomous, I looked to nursing as a pragmatic option.”

The first step in getting that career path started was the nursing program at Sinclair, and Miller graduated from that program seven years ago.

“It is a great program which prepared me well for the field. I have worked cardiac step-down, college health (at Antioch College), postpartum, labor and delivery and now I’m in the emergency department,” she said. “I completed my bachelor’s in nursing online through Ohio State in 2017. That was hard, working full-time, doing the mom thing, the wife thing and the school thing.”

Last fall she started in a graduate program to become a General Nurse Practitioner, and is projected to finish in early 2022.

“I am very proud of being a nurse. It has given me self confidence, critical thinking and a ‘sixth sense’ I never would have thought myself capable of. It is exhausting, but I love it,” Miller said.

She added that the pandemic has changed how many things in the hospital are done.

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“At Soin, the number of patients coming into the hospital has reduced drastically for the last several weeks. Lots of employees, including nurses, took furlough. So there’s some insecurity there,” she said. “In the emergency department we wear masks and sometimes goggles for 12-13 hour shifts. With less patients we have less staff working which can stretch us very thin sometimes. We are wiping everything down much more than ever before.”

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