Starting Down the Path
The road to becoming part of the Hopkins School of Nursing faculty is different for all who aspire to teach the next generation of nurses. For Assistant Professor Dr. Hailey Miller PhD, RN, this road had a unique paving.
Dr. Miller grew up in the town of Avon Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. From an early age, she knew that nursing was her calling.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember; I was initially drawn to the nursing career because nurses have a daily opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives and help people live with dignity and to their fullest potential.”
This passionate desire to pursue a career in nursing fueled Dr. Miller in her early education. At the ripe age of 16, she began coursework towards receiving her BSN through the secondary enrollment option at Lorain County Community College. The ability to juggle collegiate level courses as a high school student truly shows the dedication Dr. Miller had towards nursing.
Through this program, Dr. Miller was able to transfer 60 credits towards her BSN at the University of Cincinnati. Because of these credits, it only took her 3 years to graduate a Bearcat. While attending UC, Dr. Miller took advantage of the opportunities to further grow her experience to prepare for real-world nursing. Over one summer, Dr. Miller took part in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. This program offered her the experience of working with a nurse scientist/nurse dyad.
From BSN to DR. Miller
There is no doubt that nurses are inspiring. So much so that during this program, Dr. Miller made the decision to pursue her PhD in nursing. With still so much to learn and experience to be had, going from undergrad straight to a PhD program is an intimidating process. But someone as dedicated to achieving her goals as Dr. Miller would not be swayed.
Dr. Miller’s introduction to Hopkins came while she was looking for PhD programs closer to home. During her search, she connected with alumnus Dr. Janna Stephens who connected Dr. Miller to current Dean, Dr. Sarah Szanton and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Jerilyn Allen.
“When I decided to pursue a PhD, I never dreamed of going to a place like Hopkins. Upon visiting for interviews, I was enamored by the faculty, current students, opportunities, resources and funding support for PhD students, and ongoing research.”
Dr. Miller was also drawn by the infrastructure JHSON has in place for training in cardiovascular disease (CVD) research, the area she wanted to focus on for her PhD. During her search, Dr. Miller was working at the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute and wanted to receive training in research strategies aimed at improving prevention and management of CVD.
Seeing the enthusiasm for nursing, CVD research, and the potential Dr. Miller displayed in her early education, Dr. Szanton and Dr. Allen encouraged Dr. Miller to apply to JHSON.
Once her application was accepted, Dr. Miller hit the ground running and took full advantage of the resources now available to her through JHSON.
Through the expert advising of Dr. Allen, Dr. Miller took part in course both in and out of the School of Nursing, getting a certificate from Hopkins School of Public Health in the process.
“This option allowed me to pursue a Certificate from JHSPH and meet trainees/students from all over JHU.”
Perhaps the most invaluable thing Dr. Miller gained throughout her PhD journey was the connections she made along the way. Dr. Miller made many connections with her fellow PhD candidates, some she holds near and dear to this day.
“I am still close with my cohort mates and use them as sounding boards for new ideas and supporters through career progression. Similarly, the persons in the cohorts ‘above’ me still serve as informal mentors- I go to them for so many things and they are always there to help me. JHSON does a great job at creating a community among their students.”
From here things progressed steadily for Dr. Miller, and before long she was ready to defend her dissertation and achieve her goal of obtaining her PhD. Dr. Miller defended her dissertation in May of 2020 and in the following August became the youngest PhD graduate in JHSON history. Reaching such heights at a young age shows just how truly dedicated Dr. Miller is to nursing and how much it means to her on a personal level.
“I hope I can be an advocate in the future for others pursuing this path and that we can continue to remove barriers to make graduate school more accessible for persons from diverse backgrounds.”
JHSON is dedicated to making our programs accessible for all. The new Pathway to PhD Nursing Scholars Program is designed for outstanding nurses from diverse backgrounds and provides mentorship, resources, networking, and career guidance for anyone interested in pursuing a PhD.
From Dr. to Professor
As many JHSON faculty will attest, the job is never finished, and for Dr. Miller there was still more to achieve. After completing her PhD program, Dr. Miller went on to receive her postdoctoral training from Duke University School of Nursing.
So inspired and grateful for the experience was Dr. Miller that she chose to return to JHSON as a faculty member so that she could educate future nurses and continue her CVD research.
“Watching my mom pursue a career in education and later, make an impact on students in local school districts and universities, inspired me to be an educator. I admired her dedication to being a life-long student and creating an inclusive space for diverse learners to thrive. I wanted to find a space to do that in my career. Being faculty at JH gave me that opportunity.”
In tandem with being a nurse educator, Dr. Miller’s research focuses on addressing disparities in cardiovascular health and clinical trial participation. She currently collaborates on several projects that use digital behavioral health interventions to improve cardiovascular disease risk factors, including hypertension and obesity. She is also co-leading a project funded by the American Heart Association that aims to increase diverse participation in cardiovascular clinical trials. The overall goal of her research is to improve the cardiovascular health and care of diverse individuals and communities.
With many years ahead of her and much more research to be done, JHSON is lucky to have someone as dedicated to the nursing profession as Dr. Miller.
See more about Dr. Hailey Miller.
About the Author: Sam DiStefano
Sam DiStefano is the Social Media and Digital Content Coordinator for the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Sam works to bring the latest from JHUSON straight to your social media feeds and online reading.