BU News

Brandman DNP graduate to aid in fight against Ebola epidemic

October 30, 2014 by Brandman University

Maj. Jack Miller, DNP, has been drawn to caring for others ever since he was a Boy Scout growing up in his native Dumas, Texas. Today he is living out his dream by working with some of the top health care organizations in the world and sharing his talents to help fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Inspiration and Experience

“I remember always being the one in charge of first aid in my scout troop,” he recalls. “There wasn’t one specific moment where I decided to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner, but I do remember seeing the Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic in June of 1985, and after reading that article I remember thinking to myself ‘I want to go and help people like her’.”

That sense of caring and compassion for others continued to foster during his 12 years of service in the U.S. Army as a combat medic, where he was deployed in a number of war-ravaged areas, including Baghdad during the height of the Iraq war, and humanitarian missions to Honduras and Kosovo.

After his service in the Army, Maj. Miller became a Registered Nurse (RN) at South Plains College in Texas, and then a Fellowship of Wilderness Medicine from the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He then earned a bachelor’s degree at West Texas University, then a master’s in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) program at the University of Texas at Arlington.

He would eventually move to Cortez, Colorado, where he would work as a traveling NP serving at remote, high-acuity urgent care clinics in the sparsely-populated mountain towns of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. He also serves the U.S. Naval Reserves.

“It’s very rewarding – there are no hospitals in these remote areas, so I see everything from ingrown toenails to serious injuries,” Maj. Miller said. “Because I found myself working in these rural areas I decided to pursue the DNP program at Brandman with an emphasis on pediatrics.”

The Mission: To Make a Difference

Now 47-years-old, Maj. Miller completed the DNP program at Brandman in August and is preparing for his next mission: fighting the battle against the Ebola virus in West Africa with Partners In Health (PIH), a global health organization committed to improving the health of poor & marginalized people. Before flying to Liberia with a group from PIH, Maj. Miller will receive Ebola-specific training from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Partners In Health works closely with a number of humanitarian groups like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, Maj. Miller said, so when he learned that they were recruiting qualified medical professionals to fight Ebola in Africa, he felt compelled to volunteer. Earning the DNP at Brandman and his extensive military experience are big factors in his being selected.

“Honestly there is nothing that can truly prepare a person for what we are going to see in West Africa – particularly the living conditions – but I am determined to go and make a difference, and return home safely” he added.

Preparing to Provide Hope

His family is supportive, although a bit hesitant with all of the current media hype about Ebola, but Maj. Miller says his loved ones know that this type of mission is where his heart is at. “I love being in the field, I love making a difference; being the best thing to happen to somebody in the worst circumstances of their life – that’s what this is about. These people have lost everything and we are their only hope,” he said.

“Jack was an inimitable advance practice nurse who surpassed our expectations in his doctoral nursing studies,” said Dr. Tyke Hanisch, Interim Dean, Musco School of Nursing & Health Professions at Brandman University. “I am thankful for his service to our country and proud that he is using his education to support the health care of those in serious need.”

When asked if he is concerned after news reports of health care workers contracting Ebola while caring for patients, Maj. Miller says “of course I am nervous – but that’s what keeps you safe in these types of situations. Fear keeps you on your toes.”

“We’ve learned more about this virus over the past couple of months that we have the past two decades, and I am confident in the preventative measures in place,” he added.

After he completes CDC and FEMA training Maj. Miller will spend eight weeks in Liberia with the PIH group.

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