Leah Miller, '19 BSN
Prisma Health Upstate
RN, Neuro Med/Surg
What does it mean to you to be a College of Nursing alumnus?
I'm so proud of being a UofSC alumna! The overall nursing program gave me such a solid foundation of knowledge and experiences to start my first year of nursing. I feel that the CON helped set the groundwork to be the best in every aspect of nursing from assessment skills to patient advocacy.
Were there any faculty and/or campus experiences that helped you with your career
choices and where you are now?
During my first semester of Upper Division, I remember Dr. Priode telling us her experiences from a Neuro ICU and how interesting and complex all the patient cases were. I took a personal interest in this type of patient population and worked to strengthen my understanding of the type of care they receive.
Could you tell us a little about your work and what working in a neuro unit is like?
I currently work on a neuro med/surg floor. We take care of a lot of the patients that came from the neuro ICU and work on their transition home or to rehab. We typically see patients with seizure disorders, spinal injuries, brain cancer, Alzheimer's and dementia, and other neurologic diseases. I oriented on a floor that specializes in strokes and have been floating to that floor frequently amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That floor can care for patients with acute strokes who have received tPA as well as more invasive lines like lumbar drains. I've learned so much about neuroscience in my first year of nursing, from the brain's vessels to primary interventions for acute conditions.
What has your experience been like as a nurse during COVID-19?
Being a nurse amid the COVID-19 pandemic has posed its challenges, especially working with a neuro patient population, many of whom are disoriented. However, I’ve seen our staff shine by calling families with frequent updates, connecting patients and families using video calls, finding out the patient’s favorite food and TV shows, and even bringing coloring books for patients awaiting discharge. With our patients with Alzheimer’s, familiarity is comforting so we spend a lot of time with these patients making sure they feel safe. While visitors aren’t currently allowed in the hospital yet, working hard to build a special connection with these patients and their families helps bridge that gap.
What advice would you give a current nursing student or new graduate?
Never be afraid to ask questions! There is so much to learn from charting to medicines and someone is always willing to help you if needed.