Longtime School of Nursing associate professor retires
Penny Miller, PhD, RN (left), associate professor of nursing, shares a laugh with Dr. Miller (no relation). The Drs. Miller have been friends and colleagues teaching community/public health nursing for years.
The School of Nursing held a special luncheon June 12 to say farewell to longtime faculty member Eva Miller, DNSc, RN, associate professor in the school.
After 31 years at the School of Nursing, Dr. Miller announced earlier this year that she intended to retire at the end of the year.
“There is much I could say about Eva and her dedication to the School and her love of students,” says Marilyn M. Herrmann, PhD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing.
“Eva has always been available to anyone who needed a friend. She has given endless hours of time listening to students and faculty when they needed someone to guide them,” Dr. Herrmann continues. “In my own life I have been richly blessed by this. During my years as a student and later as her colleague, I have always found Eva willing to take her time to be a caring friend and this will be missed.”
Growing up in small, family-owned dairy farm in southeastern Texas, Dr. Miller had always wanted to be a nurse.
“While studying in high school, I read that taking the state boards in California prepared a nurse to practice in any state of the Union except New York,” says Dr. Miller.
She wanted to attend the nurse’s training program at the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University).
“To earn money for the yearly tuition of $396, I went door-to-door two summers selling religious books in Houston, Texas,” she says.
Though Dr. Miller had been an honor student in
Eva G. Miller, DNSc, RN, associate professor, School of Nursing, poses for a picture with her family. From left is Dr. Miller’s daughter Ivanna Guthrie Heater, PhD, department of psychology, School of Science and Technology; Dr. Miller; and Dr. Miller’s husband, Joseph.
her high school class, she found nursing courses to be difficult.
“I was an average student who often wondered whether another major would have been easier,” she says about her nursing school days. “After all, I did faint in the operating room twice and was squish mish with the sight of blood!”
Dr. Miller’s final evaluation with her nursing faculty left her to wonder whether she was prepared to be a nurse.
“I was told, ‘With practice you will develop confidence,’” she says. “This statement influenced my later decision to become a nurse educator.”
Since the School of Nursing was accredited for the public health nursing certification the year after Dr. Miller graduated in the late 1950s, the School offered an opportunity for recent graduates to take four additional courses and a public health nursing practicum to meet the requirements for certification.
Dr. Miller decided to undertake this extra certification.
“I enjoyed my practice on the obstetrics unit but I felt called to practice my profession in the homes and communities of the people,” she states.
Primary prevention and lifestyle practices were her inspiration.
“No doubt, my experience selling books and meeting people at their level in their environments provided the insight for this motivation,” she says.
Three years out of the nursing program, Dr. Miller’s first public health nursing experience was with the Southwest Health Center of Los Angeles city department of public health. She was assigned a mentor and learned much about herself and caring about the underserved, vulnerable families in her caseload and encouraging them in their self-care.
“There were other public health nursing experiences as my husband and I moved to other parts of the country to meet his professional goals. I never had difficulty getting licensed in other states or getting employment,” she continues. “In fact, it was these work settings that assured me that I was competent.”
After completing the master of science degree in community health nursing at Loma Linda University in January of 1975, Dr. Miller began clinical teaching community/public health nursing.
“As a nursing instructor,” she says, “I have great satisfaction in seeing students go on to make great contributions to the profession. Several are LLUSN faculty today and one is the vice-president for nursing at Loma Linda University Medical Center.”
Dr. Miller holds a California public health nurse certification, a California commission on teacher credential for school nursing services, an audiometrist certificate, and a California community college health services credential.
For the past 30 years, she has taught and supervised senior level nursing students enrolled in the baccalaureate program in official public health agencies in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
To keep her community/public health nursing skills polished, Dr. Miller took a leave of absence to work full-time as a public health nurse in San Bernardino County and was able to maintain practice one day a week for faculty practice until beginning her doctoral studies.
During her tenure at LLUSN she has also held the responsibilities of lead teacher and lead course revision to a population focus for public health nursing application. In 1986, she initiated biannual collaboration meetings of community health nurse educators of 11 National League for Nursing accredited schools of nursing in Southern California to discuss trends and concerns in community health nursing education.
She has also been student advisor for the school nurse credential program in the graduate nursing program and major professor for the school nurse services course since 1985.
At this time, she joined the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) approved School Nurse Educator Coalition. This group meets annually to share concerns about standards of practice and criteria for evaluating school nurse credential programs set by the CCTC. This group, in cooperation with its state consultant, has developed standards for school nurse credential programs and has been members of CCTC site visit evaluation teams for the credential programs. Dr. Miller has served on three such teams.
A member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc., the honor society for nursing, and charter member of Gamma Alpha Chapter, that was chartered April 11, 1976, she has held leadership positions in the chapter and currently serves as archivist.
Other honors include Teacher of the Year, LLUSN; Alumnus of the Year, LLU Nurses Alumni Association; Richard Dooley Memorial Award, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission of San Bernardino County on October 13, 1993, for the contributions to health education of the wards by community health nursing students from 1975 through 1993 at San Bernardino County Juvenile Hall; LLUSN’s Distinguished Service Award, June 2000; and Gamma Alpha Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc., Excellence in Research Grant Award in June 2003.
She holds memberships with the American Public Health Association, Southern California Public Health Association, National School Nurse Association, California School Nurse Organization, Riverside/San Bernardino County School Nurse Organization, and the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators.
In addition, she has held leadership roles in Loma Linda University School of Nursing Alumni Association, where she is currently a member of the Board.
After many years of hard work towards her doctoral degree, Dr. Miller successfully defended her dissertation, titled “Clients’ Expectations of Public Health Nurses’ Home Visits” on March 29, 2006, at the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, University of San Diego.
During the retirement luncheon held for Dr. Miller, Dr. Herrmann addressed the audience with a few comments about Dr. Miller.
“It is said that a true friend walks in when everyone else leaves and this is true of Eva,” said Dr. Herrmann. “Eva is wherever there is work to be done.”
“She never makes any show of what she does, but planning, presenting, and cleaning up is where you will find her,” continued Dr. Herrmann. “There is no way we could ever thank you for all you have done over the years to make programs of the School run so smoothly.”
Dr. Herrmann concluded, “You will be sorely missed when our next function occurs and you are not with us, but we will think of you.”
By Dustin R. Jones