Spotlight on Tara Miller
How did you get started in the nursing profession?
I started off as a med surg nurse in December of 1999 in the Upper Peninsula and Sault Ste. Marie. From there, they trained me in their emergency rooms, and then eventually in their intensive care. After about five years I went to McLaren and did critical care training for another couple years. Then I became the charge care nurse in Petoskey, where I got my open heart and trauma training.
What do you love about your position? What has kept you passionate about your career?
I just love taking care of people. That’s what I love about being a travel nurse: You don’t have to get involved in the hospital politics, or any other politics. HPC takes care of everything. You just can focus on going in and taking care of the patients and taking care of yourself.
How did you find HPC? How has HPC helped with your career?
I can’t say enough good things about them. A friend recommended them to me, and she connected me with Lauren Burger. I just love that if I need anything, they are right there. They’re all nurses, and they take care of their own. They’re always just a text or a phone call away.
What advice would you give to other traveling healthcare providers?
Although some places are offering huge salaries or signup bonuses because they’re so short staffed, you have to check into it and do your research, because you could also have four patients in the ICU, which is so dangerous, and all you’re doing is basically hoping that they stay alive all shift. The money looks great on paper, but you need to make sure you’re working for a good company that cares about you, and that you’re not going to be put into some situation where you could lose your license.
What do you think is the most important quality for a nurse to possess?
To have a big heart, because you go through so many ups and downs, and you see so many things. Your patients are so scared, they’re going through some of the scariest, worst days of their lives, and they just want to know that you’re going to help them through that and be there, and that you’re human, too.
Do you have a memorable experience from your nursing career that has shaped you into the nurse you are today?
I have a lot, but 10 or 15 years ago, when I was a charge nurse in the ICU in Petoskey, I had an 18-year-old patient who had been in an accident. She was hit by a drunk driver, and I took care of her for six days. A couple months later, she came to the hospital and told me, “I was going through one of the worst times of my life, and you were so amazing, and I was so scared, and you were so supportive to my family, and my whole life has changed. Now I’ve signed up for nursing school.” I still get choked up. I was going through this phase where I didn’t know if I wanted to even be a nurse anymore, wasn’t sure if I was still making a difference.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s hard to even make myself apply for nurse practitioner jobs. I’m having trouble leaving the bedside now because I love taking care of people so much. I’ve been offered a job as a nurse practitioner, but I just don’t know, because then you’re in and out of their lives so quickly, maybe 20 patients a day, versus one or two for 12 hours.
I joke that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up yet, even though I’m almost 45. My daughter is a nursing student now. She’s going to be an amazing nurse.