1. Miller, Lisa A. CNM, JD
  2. Founder

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To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die. - Thomas Campbell


In 2007, I wrote a Parting Thoughts column describing my conviction that nursing was not simply a job but rather a profession, a calling. In that column, I described several lessons learned from 3 women: Jesse, Sarah, and Lavergne, or "La." I particularly recalled how La, a unit secretary, had saved the day when she came to my aid during a staffing crisis complicated by some very uncharitable nursing colleagues. I mentioned that over the years, La and I had stayed in touch and remained friends. This past Christmas, I visited La in the hospital, where she was battling cancer. I am sad to say that she lost her battle only a few weeks ago. I was on a plane at the moment she died and was not able to attend her memorial, unlike her family and many of her friends. Today's column is my memorial to La, a true professional, a wonderful friend, and a wise woman.



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I met La in 1979, when I was a green "baby nurse" working in labor and delivery. La was the unit secretary on day shift, and one of the most powerful women I had ever met. Tall, with a quiet confidence and an almost regal bearing, La made sure that everything that needed doing got done, and she had little tolerance for petty behavior or folks who liked to pull rank. If the phone was ringing, you answered it; if a patient rang the call button, you asked how you could help them; and if a floor needed mopping, you got the bucket and started in, who cares what initials were on your laboratory coat. Doctor or nurse, resident or attending, it did not matter one whit to La; it was everyone's job to make sure the unit hummed along without incident. We were busy and understaffed back then (how little times have changed!), and no one talked specifically about patient safety, but we all knew it meant figuring out how to best use our resources in some fairly frightening experiences. La could calm anyone down, make everyone laugh or smile, and come up with just the right remark to break the tension when things were looking ugly. I worked with La for 2 years before moving on to midwifery and law school, but the lessons she taught me were invaluable, and I have thought of her wisdom time and time again over the years. We managed to keep in touch, and I was able to work with her again when I returned to my "hospital of origin" in 1993 as an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.


La mentored quite a few nurses and doctors over the years, and I know that many of them were much closer to her and her family than I, but my debt to La is significant. I simply would not have survived my first year of nursing without her, and I surely would not have been who I am today without her early guidance and support. I am sure each and every one of us can think of someone like La, someone who made a difference, someone who truly cared. We live such hectic lives that we may not always think to cherish those friends and mentors; I find myself now wishing I had expressed more of this to La when I saw her last. But somehow, I think she knows. She was always so far ahead of me. Thank you, La. You will always live in my heart....


-Lisa A. Miller, CNM, JD




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