HawkStrong: Lauren Miller’s dad is “my reason for nursing”

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Portrait of Lauren Miller.

HFC student Lauren Miller’s motivation to become a nurse is her late father, Gus.

“In my sophomore year of high school I knew that, no matter what, I was going to become a nurse,” recalled Miller, of Trenton. “During that year, my dad became ill. My mother rushed him to the emergency room one morning because he was having chest pain and shortness of breath. After that hospital stay, they diagnosed him with a list of medical conditions.”

Unfortunately, the hospital stays became a regular occurrence. He had to go in several times per week for treatments and medical appointments. He began having seizures and even lost his eyesight.

“It felt as though we would take two steps forward and be pushed 30 steps back. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when we took him to the hospital after getting his blood checked that his doctor said we needed to admit him,” recalled Miller. “That night, my father looked at my mother and I and said, ‘One of these days I am not going to make it out of the hospital, and I think it’s this time.’ He did come out of the hospital after a 16-week stay where my mother and I stayed with him, but he was never the same.”

While Miller and her mother took care of Gus at home, they needed help from healthcare professionals.

“The people on the frontlines for us were his nurses. They were our advocates, our comfort, our care, our shoulder to cry on when we got bad news, and our peace knowing he was in good hands. I want to emulate the amazing nurses we had. I want to be the advocate, the comfort, the shoulder to cry on, and the peace for the patients I care for and their families,” said Miller.

Sadly, Miller's father passed away in August 2020.

“He was the best dad a girl could ask for. He was always there when I needed him,” said Miller. “He made me proud to call him my dad. My goal is to make him proud of what I accomplish in life. He is my reason for nursing.”

Initial cohort of HFC and Corewell’s first-of-its-kind Nurse Immersive Clinical and Employment Program

The youngest of two, Miller graduated from Trenton High School, where she was dual-enrolled at HFC. After graduation, she continued her education at HFC, where she is a member of the Henry Ford II Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society. Miller will graduate this spring, earning her associate degree in nursing. She is debating whether to transfer to Eastern Michigan University or Ohio University.

“It was an easy transition from high school, not having to worry about transferring credits and knowing HFC has a highly reputable Nursing program that I could enter,” said Miller. “I was offered a scholarship through the Honors Program at the time, which was the best fit. I also wanted to be close to home because my mother and I were taking care of my father full-time. I wanted to be close to home to help and be there for them.”

Miller has been serving as a nurse extern at Corewell Hospital, Dearborn. In late 2023, she was one of six in the initial group of HFC nursing students to be part of the public announcement of the guaranteed-employment education partnership between HFC and Corewell Health. This innovative partnership made headlines. Miller was even featured in The Detroit News and on FOX2 News.

“I feel this is the best thing HFC and Corewell could have collaborated on,” said Miller. “Nursing school is hard. Afterward, you just want to take a step back and relax for a moment. Before this, people in my cohort would be constantly discussing and stressing about where they would apply and trying to determine what is the best fit for them. This partnership not only takes that stress away, but it also allows for more experience in the field. Don’t get me wrong: We get a lot of hands-on experience between simulation lab and clinicals! But you can never stop learning and never gain enough hands-on experience in the field of nursing. Not only will the program be beneficial for students to have job security, but hospitals will also be more adequately staffed with nurses. Hospitals are always hiring, especially nurses.”

Stepping out of her comfort zone

After she graduates from HFC, Miller’s position at Corewell Dearborn will become full-time. She will work in the Orthopedic/Trauma unit, mainly taking care of patients who have undergone hip and knee replacements.

“Not only has it taken the stress off finding a job, but it also brings excitement and readiness to begin this new chapter of my life,” said Miller. “Being chosen as one of the initial six students not only feels like an honor, but it also gives me a push to be out there more. I was always a student who sat in class and just took notes, studied, and passed exams. Recently, I have gotten out of my comfort zone. This whole thing – between the announcement, to being in the newspaper – has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and be more comfortable with using my voice to represent HFC Nursing.”

She continued: “As one of the initial six, I also feel it is important that I spread the word to current nursing students and explain to them the importance of this partnership and let them know why they should take advantage of it. It has allowed me to feel seen by faculty and staff for inviting me and has pushed me to use my voice to represent the program.”

Being in The Detroit News flooded Miller with an array of emotions.

“It showed me personally that I was not only one step closer to reaching my dream, but I was also helping to make a change and encourage others to take the leap and go into nursing,” she said. “Everyone around me was proud of me for my accomplishments and for being in the paper. I was flooded with text messages, tags on social media, and comments stating how proud they were of me and that they saw me! Although it was amazing, I just wish my father was here to be able to experience everything with me. I know he is cheering me on and leading the way, but his not being here is the hardest part throughout all of this.”

Take advantage of academic support and advising from Day One

HFC psychology instructor Alison Buchanan was Miller’s directed study advisor in the Honors Program. Buchanan taught Miller in three of her classes.

“Lauren is an outstanding student, and I was very lucky to be able to work with her,” said Buchanan. “Together, we investigated the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of college students. Lauren is extremely bright and very dedicated to her studies. Her motivation and determination to succeed will make her a wonderful nurse one day.”

When she enrolled at HFC, Miller was glad she joined the Honors Program.

“Those classes challenged me academically. Another thing that helped me academically are the support services HFC offers to its students, such as the Learning Lab tutoring program and Academic Advising,” she said. “After I finished my first year, I took advantage of these services. If I could go back and tell my younger self something, it would be to take advantage of academic support immediately. The Learning Lab helped me pass exams that I did not know if I was going to pass, and helped me learn new ways to study and excel. The Academic Advising Office helped me to plan my courses and set me up for success to apply to the Nursing program. I attempted to set up my classes alone without help, and it was not a good or easy time. Advising helped me plan everything out and eased the stress of trying to determine what classes I needed to take and when to take them.”

Easing patients’ fears and ensuring their comfort

For Miller, the best part of being a nurse is being able to help people at a vulnerable time.

“Patients are often scared; doctors are speaking a foreign language to them, and they sometimes do not completely know what is going on. As a nurse, it’s our job to break it down for them and be there to comfort not only them but their family members. We are there, giving them care all day and night while making sure they are comfortable,” she explained.

Miller remembered when she was hospitalized and how the nurses made a positive impression on her.

“The nurses sat there and listened to me and made sure not only all my questions were answered, but so were my mother’s questions. Tthose nurses made the biggest impact on my comfort during my hospital stay and made me feel less scared,” she said. “Even though being a nursing student gave me background on some topics the doctors were speaking on, I was still scared. Knowing that I still felt scared – even with having some medical background – I can only imagine how patients with no medical background feel.”

Miller continued: “It will always be my goal to ensure that the patient is comfortable, well taken care of, and understands what is going on and why. As a nurse, we can only do so much. But the main thing we can do is advocate for our patients.”

Miller offered some advice for people who are considering a career in nursing.

“I will not lie: Nursing school is the furthest thing from easy, but the outcome is worth it. I was always told, ‘Remember, diamonds are created under pressure, so hold on – it will be your time to shine soon.’ This quote was helpful during school, reminding me that even though I was feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and every other emotion, the outcome would be amazing,” she explained. “The world needs nurses everywhere. The best part about nursing is you can go anywhere and do anything! You can become a nurse practitioner, a nurse at a private office, do telehealth nursing, cosmetic nursing, and so much more. Make the leap, be the change, and be a part of the next generation of nurses!”

Related content: HFC Nursing program informational video